Edmonton house blast site still debris-strewn

The City of Edmonton says it is not responsible for the cleanup of the site of a fatal house blast in June, even though the people who lived in the house are dead.

4 found dead after June explosion

Debris from the house that exploded is still visible at the site. ((Janice Johnston/CBC News))
The City of Edmonton says it is not responsible for the cleanup of the site of a fatal house explosion in June, even though the people who lived in the house are dead.

"Property owners are responsible for the debris that's on their property. The City of Edmonton is not responsible for debris on private property," said Stephane Labonne, the director of the city's office of great neighbourhoods.

Four people were found dead after the June 20 explosion in the north Edmonton neighbourhood of Lago Lindo, but three months later, the blast site is still covered with debris and people in the area are furious the city hasn't done more to clean it up.

Labonne said there are a number of "complex factors" affecting the pace of the cleanup, including the ongoing criminal investigation and resolution of insurance issues.

"This was a traumatic experience for residents in the area ... we are working as best as we possibly can to bring a sense of normalcy back to this community," Labonne said.

But the city can't go to the blast site and remove debris, he said.

"The City of Edmonton does not have the ability to walk on private property and clean up a site."

Shannon Slemko's house was damaged in the June 20th explosion. ((Janice Johnston/CBC News))
Cathie Heard, 47, and Dwayne Poirier, 46, owned the house that exploded, at 18011 91A St. They both died in the blast, which also killed next-door neighbours Craig Huber, 29, and Brad Winter, 26.

Police have yet to announce how Heard and Poirier died or who or what caused the explosion. Sources told CBC News that they saw a woman's bound and wrapped body carried out of the blast site.

About 40 homes were damaged in the blast. While some have been cleaned up, progress of insurance claims determines how quickly work can continue on others.

As for the property that exploded, city lawyers are trying to determine the current owner and the legal options the city has at its disposal.

The city plans to put up privacy fencing this week to keep the debris of the explosion site from being in full view of the neighbours.

"Devastated. Upset. Angry. Very angry," Shannon Slemko said when asked to describe his feelings about the blast site. Slemko's home was damaged in the explosion and he won't be able to return for at least another six months.

Slemko said he doesn't like looking at the scene, especially since he was friends with Huber and Winter. Their house has been cleaned up, Slemko said, thanks to the efforts of Winter's mother. 

"I watched Mrs. Winter clean up the home her son lived in and I respect her with all my heart," he said. But Slemko is not impressed by the condition of the Poirier-Heard house site.

"Nobody has done nothing and I do feel somebody should. If I gotta do it myself, I'll do it. But it's devastating."