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Bluefest Stage Collapse

Festival will watch weather more closely after violent storm toppled stage

OTTAWA – Provincial investigators were combing the gnarled wreckage at the grounds of the Ottawa Bluesfest on Monday for clues to explain how a violent summer gale toppled the festival’s main stage.

The structure collapsed Sunday night as howling winds blew while the band Cheap Trick was on stage. Thousands of people scurried for cover as scaffolding buckled into a heap.

At least four people were hurt — including the band’s truck driver — but the head of the festival says all have now been released from hospital.

The veteran rock band — best known for hits including “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me” — said they were merely shaken, not hurt.


“Everyone is okay and we are so lucky to be alive and hope that all the fans are okay too,” band said in a message posted on their Facebook page.

Video of the Bluesfest site posted on YouTube showed the stage, which stood several storeys tall, being propelled backward before crumpling and damaging a tractor-trailer truck parked behind it.

Without elaborating, Cheap Trick lead singer Robin Zander ended the band’s Internet posting with the words, “And all the best to our truck driver Sandy.”

Band manager Dave Frey told CNN “one of our drivers will spend the night in the hospital.”

A team from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour was on site Monday looking for anything that might explain how the big stage came tumbling down. The ministry will produce a report on the incident.

There are still more questions than answers. Namely, should organizers have called off the show when the weather turned nasty?

The executive director of Bluesfest says that’s what they did.

“We were monitoring the weather and what was a watch turned into a more severe situation,” Mark Monahan said at a morning news conference.

“And when that happened we called it immediately.”

Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning about an hour before the stage collapsed. But Monahan said the festival can’t stop every time the weather deteriorates.

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Weather Forecasting and Teminolgy

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The Atmospheric Environment Service of Environment Canada is responsible for general weather services in Canada. The Alberta Weather Centre, one of eight regional centres, provides services for Alberta and northeastern British Columbia from its office in Edmonton.

The Alberta Weather Centre operates 24 hours a day, year round. Its primary responsibility is to issue weather warnings and advisories for severe or hazardous weather conditions, which could cause serious inconveniences or endanger life or property. In addition, forecasters continually issue weather information to serve the general public, the media, and industries such as agriculture.

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