North Central explosion caused by compromised gas line: Regina fire department
Police investigating after damage deemed too extensive to find ignition source
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.
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.
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.
"[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.