Residents in London, Ont., said their neighbourhood was engulfed in a “fireball” after a vehicle slammed into a home, hitting a gas line causing a massive explosion that levelled a home and damaged several others.
“We were about three houses down then the building blew sky-high,” Tyler Bilyea told CTV News. “Glass coming out from other buildings, it was a fireball.”
Authorities said a woman slammed her vehicle into a Woodman Avenue home at 10:37 p.m. Wednesday, rupturing a gas line in the process. Police began evacuating the neighbourhood while several people were already heading out on their own.
The damaged house then exploded around 10:50 p.m. Officials say no one was home at the time.
Resident Keara-Lynn Douglas was at home with her family a few blocks away when explosion occurred, feeling like “a car had hit our house or something shook it.”
“We ran outside… everybody was yelling ‘explosion’ and no one knew what was going on,” Douglas described to CTV News Channel on Thursday. “We saw an orange glow nearby so we got in the car and drove a few blocks down to make sure everyone was OK.”
The woman said when they arrived on scene the house was “completely gone.”
“The fire was, it was still burning, like there was no dying out… it just kept burning and burning,” Douglas recalled. “We didn’t know if anyone was safe, if anyone was still in the house. It looked so sudden that no one could have been able to escape, we were thinking the worse and everybody was in tears.”
At least 12 people including first responders were assessed on scene for injuries, with seven people being transported to hospital. Of those seven, one is a civilian, four are firefighters and two are police officers.
Another resident said he ran into a home adjacent to the house that was struck by the vehicle to help get people out of the residence.
“I was in the house getting two elderly neighbours and then all of a sudden all the windows imploded in their house,” Michael Peckham told CTV News on Wednesday. “It was pretty scary.”
The 23-year-old driver from Kitchener was arrested and has been charged with impaired driving and four counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.
--with a file from CTV London’s Justin Zadorsky