The fate of a woman living a home levelled by an explosion Monday is unclear.
Monday afternoon, police and firefighters said they consider her missing, while some neighbours say they think she left the house shortly before the explosion and fire erupted.
The rubble of the collapsed house is unsafe to venture into, say police, so it could be days before investigators can venture inside to search it.
Hamilton Police Staff Sgt. Andrew Dunlop said because of the collapse: "It's unsafe to do anything for a few days."
The house, on Wilson Street at Victoria, collapsed about a half hour after the fire started, said Hamilton Fire Department platoon chief Brian Stark. Firefighters had to call off their search for the occupant.
Firefighters don’t know whether the occupant, a woman, was home at the time or not. Some neighours say they believe the woman left with some of her pets shortly before the fire started.
The explosion occurred just after 12:30 p.m. The cause of the explosion and fire has not been determined.
Monday afternoon, an investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal's office had arrived on the scene.
Theresa Ross was walking in the park across the street from the home at the time the fire started.
“I heard two big bangs and I thought it was a car crash and then the window popped out. It was very scary. I saw the window pop out and it burst into flames.”
The home is a one-and-half storey brick structure.
Stark said firefighters initially went into the home but had exited before the collapse.
Next door neighbours who heard the explosion and came outside to see what had happened were interviewed by police.