Saskatchewan

North Central explosion caused by compromised gas line: Regina fire department

An explosion at a North Central low-income housing unit that rocked the city Sunday morning was caused by a compromised gas line, according to Regina Fire and Protective Services.

Police investigating after damage deemed too extensive to find ignition source

A fourplex owned by the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation on the corner of 6th Avenue and Retallack Street in North Central Regina was destroyed after an explosion on Sunday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

An explosion at a North Central low-income housing unit that rocked the city Sunday morning was caused by a compromised gas line, according to Regina Fire and Protective Services.

Due to the extent of the damage, fire investigators said they weren't able to determine how the blast was ignited. The investigation is now in the hands of the Regina Police Service, according to a news release sent late Monday afternoon.

A neighbouring apartment complex that suffered significant structural damage will also be demolished, Regina Fire added.

Firefighters were called to the fourplex on the corner of Retallack Street and 6th Avenue just before 11 a.m. CST Sunday.

Gord Hewitt, Regina's deputy fire chief, said in a news conference Monday morning that he was taken aback when he saw the damage.

Explosions "are not that common — especially to this magnitude. I've been in the fire service 24 years, and I haven't seen anything like this yet," he explained of his reaction.

Regina deputy fire chief Gord Hewitt says two people are displaced and several others were evacuated after Sunday's fourplex explosion in North Central. (Jessie Anton/CBC)

The loud bang and aftermath took Lillian Quewezance, who lives just a few doors down from the building, by surprise. She said it was like a scene out of a movie.

"All of a sudden — kaboom! Everything started crashing to the floor in my living room and I kind of got taken off my feet a little bit by the bang. It was pretty crazy and freaky," Quewezance told CBC News.

Hewitt said one person nearby reported minor injuries from the blast.

Several people had to evacuate their homes for a few hours Sunday afternoon as crews checked the scene for any safety issues. A city bus was brought in to help keep them warm.

As of Monday morning, two people from a neighbouring apartment complex were still displaced due to that building's damage.

The Regina fire department said an apartment building on Retallack Street is set to be demolished after an explosion at a fourplex next door caused extensive damage on Sunday morning. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Fourplex vacant since April 2021

The fourplex was owned by the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation and run by the Regina Housing Authority.

The housing corporation told CBC News no one had been living there since April 2021, so it was boarded up to prevent any break-ins.

A photo of the building which exploded in Regina's North Central neighbourhood on Sunday from May 2013. (Google Maps)

"[Saskatchewan Housing Corporation] takes tenant and public safety very seriously," the housing corporation wrote in an emailed statement Monday afternoon.

"Housing authorities and their security contractors also inspect the exterior of any vacant properties several times per week to ensure there are no concerns. No concerns were reported about this building in recent exterior inspections."

The housing corporation added that safety inspections are underway at its other units in the area as a precaution.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessie Anton

Journalist

Jessie Anton is a Regina-based journalist with CBC Saskatchewan. She began sharing stories from across the province on television, radio and online in 2016, after getting her start in the rural weekly newspaper world. Email her at jessie.anton@cbc.ca.

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