May 8, 2019 2:33 pm

Strathcona County Library reopens 6 months after damaged by explosions

WATCH ABOVE: The Strathcona County library and parkade have re-opened to the public. The facilities were closed for six months after explosions in the underground parkade of the community centre caused extensive damage. Kent Morrison reports.

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Six months after two explosions damaged the Strathcona County civic office, the library and parkade inside the community centre reopened Wednesday morning.

The Strathcona County Library has been closed since Nov. 6. 2018, when two separate explosions rocked the Strathcona County Community Centre parkade in the heart of Sherwood Park.

READ MORE: Strathcona County Library to reopen 6 months after explosions

Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank and the library’s CEO, Sharon Siga helped reopen the doors to the renovated facility.

“This is a key date for us. This is the community’s living room in a sense and people have been anticipating this for a number of months, so we’re really happy it’s happening,” Frank said.

“We are so much closer to normal now that we have opened the doors to the public,” Siga said. “When you hear the buzz of activity and the children running through the space, that’s what normal sounds like for us, so we’re very happy today.”

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READ MORE: Man, 21, dead after blast led police to car packed with explosives in Sherwood Park

In late November, RCMP Supt. Dave Kalist said 21-year-old Kane Kosolowsky “purposely caused an explosion underneath a half-tonne truck on the lower level parkade.”

Kosolowsky was found injured after the first explosion and taken to hospital where he later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Frank said police have never discovered a motive and he does not expect they will.

“They’ve communicated to us it was a single individual, self-inflicted fatality and not connected to any ideology or group, so it’s over from that perspective,” he said.

The entire complex, which houses the county hall, library and other county services, was evacuated.

The mayor was in the building at the time of the explosions.

“It was unusual but it was like a fire, the first thought you have and the fire engines arrived and it was a normal event from that perspective,” he said. “But then there was an explosion and a second explosion and that’s what turned it into a police investigation.”

About 200 employees returned to work 10 days after the blasts, while another 300 continued to work in temporary locations around the county, including the temporary library which was set up at 100 Broadview Dr.

READ MORE: Sherwood Park explosions caused $14M in damage

County officials said soot covered everything on the two-floor library, including books, shelves and other surfaces. Extensive cleaning and restoration work was done in the months following the incident, including a specialized cleaning of everything in the 200,000-item collection.

“Soot settled on horizontal surfaces, so they have these special vacuums with hepa filters that they used to vacuum every surface of the library including the tops of the books,” Siga explained.

“They then have special sponges to go on the outside of every single item.”

The damaged parkade was also reopened to the public on Wednesday. According to the county, the parkade underwent “extensive” restoration work. Concrete damaged by the blast was repaired, all of the walls, ceilings and elevators were cleaned to remove soot and some electrical and PVC piping was replaced.

Frank said the community has moved past the impact of the incident.

“For sure it was an important, it was a unique event, it was a serious event,” he said. We’ve had time to process it, and with the parkade and the library, there’s a feeling of normalcy now.”

The mayor said the cost of repairing the building has been $14 million, with all of it being covered by insurance.

— With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News and Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED

WATCH BELOW: Ongoing Global News coverage of the Sherwood Park explosions

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