Blast completely destroys one house, damages two dozen others; cause remains unknown, but Ontario Fire Marshal investigating role of gas
MISSISSAUGA, Ont.—One person is dead and nine others have suffered minor injuries in an explosion that levelled one home and damaged at least two dozen others in Mississauga, Ont. June 28.
Following the blast, a Peel paramedic spokesman said a woman died at the scene, while another official said nine people were treated for minor injuries, but none had to be taken to hospital.
One house was destroyed by the blast Tuesday afternoon and neighbouring homes show signs of heavy damage, with debris spread over a wide area.
Police officers set up a large perimeter around the destroyed home and went door-to-door evacuating nearby residences.
Mississauga Fire Chief Tim Beckett told a news conference that an “outside perimeter” encompasses 700 addresses and anyone outside that area will not be allowed inside until the all-clear is given.
Pina Galea was one of those who wasn’t allowed back to her house yesterday. She saw the blast in the distance as she was driving home.
“All I saw was this explosion and I said to myself, ‘that’s my house,”’ Galea said at the scene Tuesday night.
Galea’s house wasn’t the one that exploded but she said it was heavily damaged. Her first instinct was to find her parents, who she located at a neighbour’s.
Her father had been just about to head home to do some gardening when the explosion occurred.
“He could have been hit by that thing,” a still-distraught Galea said, adding “a house can be replaced, but not a life.”
Galea and Chris Formosa, a 32-year-old who used to live in the neighbourhood, both said a man in his 40s or 50s and a woman lived in the house that exploded. Galea described the man as “very private.”
“I’m really worried because a lot of elderly people live on this street,” said Formosa, who said he went to the explosion site to see if he could offer any help.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said gas and water were shut off to 58 homes in the area and between 50 and 100 people were evacuated last night. A reception centre was set up at a nearby community centre, where evacuees were provided with anything they needed, including medications.
“It may have been a blessing that it was 4:23 p.m. and not a little bit later when more people arrived home from work,” Crombie said. “We’re hoping and praying at this time that it’s limited to the one fatality.”
Beckett said last night that one house was severely damaged due to an explosion, but it was too early to know what caused the blast.
“We have approximately 24 other homes in the area that have damage that ranges from very light damage to extreme damage,” he said.
“We have a large debris field in the area … we’ve totally lost one home so you can just imagine.”
The investigation is being led by Ontario’s Fire Marshal’s office, which says it will be looking at the role gas might have played in the explosion.
“We’ve obviously got some residual gas that remains trapped in pockets in some of these damaged homes. We definitely have collapsed homes and unstable homes, so until we can get people in to stabilize these things and shore them up, there’s no human access going into them.
“The area is safe in terms of any other concerns for public safety,” Beckett said when asked if there was a possibility of another explosion.
Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans said the night of June 28 that she had no details about the person who was found dead following the explosion.
“We’re in the very initial stages of the investigation,” Evans said. “We have to determine if this is a criminal investigation or if this is an accident.”
—With files from Peter Cameron and Alan Black in Toronto