UPDATED: Three Hospitalized After Building Explosion In Wheatley

Thursday August 26th, 2021

Posted at 7:24pm

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Photo courtesy Kathryn & Dave (@_phos3 on Twitter)

Last updated: Friday August 27th, 6:13pm

Emergency crews are still on scene in the town of Wheatley following a building explosion.

The blast took place around 6:00pm Thursday near the corner of Talbot Road East and Erie Street North.

Chatham-Kent officials say two buildings were heavily damaged by the blast.

Witnesses say the explosion destroyed the former Pogue tavern, shattered nearby windows and even damaged buildings across the street. Rubble was ejected from the explosion and was located a block away, witnesses told windsoriteDOTca.  The blast was reportedly heard for several kilometres.

In a statement, the municipality of Chatham-Kent said three people were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A total of 20 people were injured in the blast.

States of emergency were declared twice for the area in recent months. The first, in early June, was declared after naturally occurring hydrogen sulphide gas was detected. The municipality declared a second state of emergency in July after gas was detected at 15 Erie Street North.

Officials say gas monitoring devices placed at the site indicated the presence of gas at approximately 4:30pm, Thursday, setting off alarms and activating a 9-1-1 call. They say first responders had evacuated the buildings closest to the alarm and were in the process of evacuating a wider area when the explosion occurred.

A Chatham-Kent Fire spokesperson said late Thursday evening that police were assisting with evacuations and residents in the area should be prepared to evacuate. Officials say anyone in need of housing can visit the Wheatley arena for assistance.

Police say the evacuation area for Wheatley included streets, residences and businesses on Walker, Elm, Little, Victoria, Julian, Chestnut, and Buchanan streets.

On Friday the municipality urged residents displaced or affected by the explosion who are in need of food, shelter or clothing to call 3-1-1 or go to the Wheatley Arena where municipal case managers will be on site until Saturday, August 28th from 8:30am to 4:30pm. After business hours, residents are asked to call 519-354-6628.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff is calling on the provincial government to use its authority and expertise to respond to the issue of the recurring hydrogen sulphide leak.

“It is unacceptable for the people of Wheatley to live in fear,” Canniff  said. “We are continuing our calls for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to take control of the situation and use its authority and expertise to find the source of the leak and correct the issue.”

 

Damage in downtown Wheatley on August 26th. Photo courtesy Kathryn & Dave (@_phos3 on Twitter).

Downtown Wheatley is pictured during the state of emergency in June (photo courtesy Chatham Kent Police)

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