'Significant movement' made in preparing to find source of Wheatley explosion

The cause of an explosion that sent three people to hospital is under investigation in Wheatley, Ont. on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (Chris Campbell/CTV Windsor)

Municipal and provincial officials have formed a technical advisory group to build a framework for the investigation into the cause of a Wheatley explosion that levelled a downtown building.

According to Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire, “significant movement” has been made in investigating the source of the explosion that sent three people to the hospital last Thursday.

"Municipal and provincial officials met in Wheatley Monday and have formed a technical advisory group that will set parameters for the investigation of the explosion and finding the source of the hydrogen sulfide leak which is the suspected cause," he said. "Establishing how the effort will proceed is a necessary step to getting where we want to be.'

Shropshire said there is no timeline for residents to return to the two-block area around the site of the explosion at 15 Erie Street North.

“There are structural issues regarding a number of buildings, contaminated debris and the leak itself," he said. "It will be some time before we can contemplate allowing people into the area."

Entegrus has restored power to about half of the 90 customers whose electricity was turned off following the blast.

A limited number of workers alongside emergency officials will be entering a section of the downtown area away from the immediate blast zone to board up windows that had been blown out.

According to the municipality, more than 100 households have sought help at the reception area set-up at the Wheatley Arena. The municipality says 13 families are being house and officials are assisting local groups in coordinating donations.

The Wheatley community has set up a food hub and donation reception centre at the Talbot Trail golf course in Wheatley, gift cards will also be accepted and distributed to those in need.

The municipality says residents who are looking to return to their properties in the non-evacuation zone should contact 519-350-2956 before returning to confirm their eligibility to return.