'I heard this big bomb': Brandon, Man., house explosion kills woman, injures man
Cause was a 'probable' gas explosion, Manitoba Hydro says
A woman is dead and a man was airlifted to a hospital in Winnipeg on Tuesday evening after a house exploded in the east end of Brandon, Man., police said.
The front of the home on Queens Avenue East was torn open and a mattress and other household items were strewn across the front lawn and onto neighbouring properties.
Police were called to the single-storey house around 8 p.m. Tuesday.
They found a 63-year-old woman dead in the house and a 63-year-old man in critical condition. He was airlifted to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. Brandon is about 215 kilometres west of Winnipeg.
Residents forced to flee
Kerri Palmer lives across the street and was at home when the house exploded.
"I heard this big bomb … this huge bomb," she said.
Moments later, she said, a couple who had been walking with their dog past the home as the walls blew out knocked at her door.
"I said, 'What's going on?' and he said, 'Call 911,'" Palmer said. "The house, he said, just lifted up and fell right down."
Police told Erin Foukes and her family, who live on the same street, to leave.
"The air was just thick as paste with the smell of natural gas," said Foukes. "Looking right across the street … the house was just obliterated."
Foukes described the scene as surreal and said some were in tears watching firefighters sift though the rubble.
"We packed up the kittens, literally, in backpacks and gym bags and went to [the] Tim Hortons parking lot for a half an hour," she said.
Police said several homes were evacuated following the blast, but residents were allowed to return later Tuesday evening.
Neighbours told CBC News that the home was recently sold and believed it was under renovation.
"It is so terrifying, and I was worried about the people who were inside," said Gebeyehu Yigzaw, whose home is across the back lane.
Yigzaw said he was on his way home when his wife called. "My wife told me that our house … just shook," he said, adding that he arrived at his house as emergency crews arrived at the scene of the explosion.
Manitoba Hydro, police investigating
Manitoba Hydro crews were also at the scene. A spokesperson said Tuesday its crews hadn't determined a cause, but the utility was dealing with a "probable" gas explosion.
Brandon police said Wednesday that the office of the fire commissioner is investigating, and there was a strong smell of natural gas in the area.
Police are also investigating.