London

'It's just surreal': Displaced residents shaken after east London explosion

At least seven houses were damaged and seven people were sent to hospital, including four firefighters, two police officers and one civilian.

7 sent to hospital, 7 homes damaged, 1 charged with impaired driving

Jamie Jack opened up her business Wednesday evening for impacted residents. ( Martin Trainor/CBC)

Jamie Jack says she still hasn't quite processed it yet.

The Old East Village resident's home was evacuated Wednesday night after a car slammed into a nearby residence, severing a gas line and setting off a massive explosion.

"I heard a 'boom' and an explosion … my backyard was just lit orange and then I started screaming and yelling for my husband to wake up," she recalled.

Jack said she and her husband were able to grab their cat and some documents before heading out the door and onto the street for safety.

"I'm still in shock. It's just surreal," she said.

Officials were at the scene in the early hours of Thursday morning. ( Martin Trainor/CBC)

Jack was among 100 people forced to leave their homes after the incident on Dundas Street and Woodman Avenue.

At least seven houses were damaged and seven people were sent to hospital, including four firefighters, two police officers and one civilian.

As of Thursday afternoon, one firefighter remained in hospital in serious but stable condition. 

Police charged 23-year-old Daniella Alexandra Leis, of Kitchener, Ont., with impaired driving causing bodily harm and driving above the legal limit.

Assistance available

City officials have arranged accommodations for the dozens of displaced families. It's unclear when residents will return to their homes.

The city advised those who need accommodations to contact them or go to the Boyle Community Centre.

Officials with the Canadian Mental Health Association told CBC News they had workers on standby to deal with those impacted by the traumatic incident.

Londoners can contact the crisis line at (519) 433-2023 and young people can reach out at (519) 433-0334.

Area evacuated after car slams into house, severs gas line and sets off large explosion. 0:25

Residents impacted

Brian MaGee lives down the street from the house that was struck. He and his family spent the night at his uncle's after their home was evacuated.

MaGee recalled having to act quickly and cover his son after a piece of plywood came flying directly at them.

"There was glass that hit my face while I was protecting my son. I got a couple cuts," he said. "I'd rather it hit me than my boy."

MaGee was able to return to the home briefly on Thursday to pick up medication and other essentials

He said he noticed five broken windows as well as other minor damages.

"There's glass all over the front patio and street," he recalled.

Dimitrios Alexis returned to his father-in-law's home on the street Thursday to pick up some medication. ( Martin Trainor/CBC)

Dimitrios Alexis was also allowed to visit his father-in-law's home on the street Thursday to pick up some medication for the 90-year-old.

"My father-in-law was sleeping at the time (of the blast). He was in bed with my mother-in-law. The neighbours rushed over to let them know that this explosion happened next door," he said.

"They are nice and safe."

Police are continuing to investigate the incident and will likely remain on the scene for the next couple of days.

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