Blaster devastated
Man admits letting a Grade 5 student set blast

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 14/97) - The man responsible for blasting boulders onto homes in Frame Lake South Saturday afternoon is devastated by what happened and he's apologizing for the accident.

"I feel really bad for the homeowners, and I assume full responsibility for what happened," said Clay Timberg, owner of Northern Dynamic Drilling and Blasting.

He also admits letting a boy in Grade 5 push the detonation plunger for one of the 12 blasts that day -- the very blast that went wrong.

"He did it once -- he pressed it once, but I was holding it, too," he said. He put the stemming (dirt) in the drilling holes, and that was it. He was a young fella and he was interested in it. He wanted a job."

Timberg said that the boy was with him, a safe distance away on Williams Avenue, when the blasts took place.

Timber estimates that he's overseen between 30,000 to 40,000 blasts over the last 20 years. This is his first serious accident.

He had been blasting near Woolgar Avenue and Williams Avenue since the end of April for the construction of the Diamond Pointe condominium project.

The Mine Health and Safety Unit of the Workers' Compensation Board is investigating the incident, along with the RCMP.

Const. Brian Bohlken said that it will likely be the end of the week before police determine if charges will be laid. The blasting permit from the city has been revoked until the investigation concludes.

While Arctic West Adjusters will be assessing the value of the damage, Timberg puts it at between $25,000 and $50,000.

All it took was an apparently inadequately covered drilling hole to substantially damage a couple of homes on Woolgar Avenue, and cause minor damage for several others. At least one vehicle was also damaged.

"They were five-feet-deep drill holes covered with big, heavy rubber mats, weighing 2.5 tonnes a piece," said Timberg. "There were 20 of them on the site."

Wanda Lisoway was standing six feet away from her window when a rock crashed through.

"They were blasting, I heard the warning noise, I picked up my dog and the patio door smashed. I was pushed back by glass coming off the patio," she said.

There were also several children playing in the vicinity of the blast -- one boy reportedly standing on his lawn watching the rocks fly over the street.

The accident occurred at 3:15 p.m., sending rocks -- ranging in size from 14 kilograms to tiny pebbles -- about 100 metres into the air.

Timberg said he hopes the incident won't hurt his business.

"I can't really see it affecting me too much, but that may be up to the powers that be," he said. "I plan to stay in this business unless someone says I can't. It's what I do for a living."

He was scheduled to meet with city officials yesterday to go over Saturday's events.