A woman is dead and a man has been airlifted to hospital after an explosion flattened a home in Kitchener on Wednesday morning.
Police and firefighters were called to the home on Sprucedale Crescent shortly after 8 a.m. and found the woman and man in the rubble in the backyard. A dog was found dead inside the house.
More than 30 firefighters who were on duty at the time of the blast remained at the scene into the afternoon, while backup was brought in on overtime to handle other emergencies in the city.
“As you can see, this was a significant event that called all of our available resources,” Kitchener Fire Chief Jon Rehill told reporters.
Rehill said in an update, 16 houses will be evacuated from the street for at least three days to ensure the safety of the residents and Red Cross has been contacted to help coordinate resources for those who have been displaced.
“There was like the sound of rolling thunder before stuff just started falling onto the ground,” said next-door neighbour Daphne Gorman.
“By the time I got out, I saw the house wasn’t there anymore. There was no fire yet at the time but when it started, it grew fast.”
She said she hasn’t been allowed near her house since then.
“I got out of there with the kids as soon as I could,” she said. “I know there were windows broken. There was glass everywhere.”
A woman who lives on the other side of the destroyed house said a couple lives there and has a daughter and son.
Rehill said residents on the north side of the neighbourhood continue to be without gas and water, but water is expected to be restored by Wednesday evening. The utilities have been secured and there is no threat to the neighboring area or residences.
Deputy Chief Kevin Chalk said police are treating the case as a death investigation, not a criminal investigation at this time. They are still working to determine the identity of the victims.
An autopsy will be completed in the next two days to determine the woman’s cause of death.
Rehill said it’s too early to determine the cause of the explosion.
The coroner and Ontario fire marshal are now at the scene assisting with the investigation.
With files from The Canadian Press
See how the event unfolded on Twitter below: