Main stage collapses at Bluesfest

Elizabeth Howell
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The main stage collapsed at Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest Sunday night around 7:20 p.m., moments after Cheap Trick members left the stage due to an intense storm.

OBJ editor Peter Kovessy saw the stage fall, leaving it torn apart, with the canopy blown across the field just in front of the stage.

Wind gusted under the canopy like an umbrella and toppled it, leaving behind a wreck of fabric and twisted metal.

Some members of the crowd fled into the adjacent Canadian War Museum, where they were initially instructed to evacuate to the parking garage. They were ultimately ushered off the site.

"Fire crews and police are checking beneath stage and so far no one found. Appears everyone made it out safely," the Ottawa fire service wrote on Twitter just before 8 p.m.

Twenty minutes later, the service wrote a second search underneath the canopy confirmed nobody was trapped.

On Twitter Sunday night, Bluesfest officials said no serious injuries occurred as a result of the collapse, and that remaining programming for the festival was cancelled.

In a Facebook update, Cheap Trick said no one in the band was hurt. "Everyone is okay and we are so lucky to be alive and hope that all the fans are okay too," read a caption underneath a picture of the damaged stage.

Environment Canada issued a thunderstorm warning for Ottawa Sunday evening, saying winds were averaging 90 kilometres per hour and gusts were possible of up to 140 kilometres an hour.

The storm also downed trees and periodically knocked out power across Ottawa.

Bluesfest draws an average of 250,000 people during its run. Sunday was the closing night of the 12-day festival.

- With reports from Peter Kovessy

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    July 18, 2011 - 09:29

    Well over a thousand of us hurried into the War Museum for protection from the storm immediately after the stage collapsed. About 5 minutes later a lady's voice announced that everyone needed to go to the North or South parking lots. No reason or explanation was given, and we all looked at each other in disbelief that they would require us to leave shelter in the middle of a raging storm. Nobody left and about 30 minutes later one of the tall security guys wearing a black "Security" t-shirt walked in through the North entrance and yelled "We are evacuating the museum, everyone has to leave now!". The storm was still really nasty outside so again everyone was in disbelief. I don't think many actually left, especially the families with strollers, and the elderly people. 10 minutes later a lady's voice announced that everyone was welcome to stay in the lobby as long as they wanted, and security folks started coming around to ask if people are OK. A little disorganized??

  • DM
    July 17, 2011 - 20:21

    Hope everyone is alright...

  • bob
    July 17, 2011 - 20:09

    Not minutes after they left the stage. Moments. Maybe 15 seconds max.

  • Disko Dave
    July 17, 2011 - 20:01

    So sad to hear & hope everyone is ok...