Three hospitalized, widespread damage after Wheatley, Ont. building explosion

WINDSOR, ONT. — Three people have been sent to hospital with non-life threatening injuries after a building exploded in downtown Wheatley, Ont., according to Chatham-Kent officials.

Emergency crews were called around 6:30 p.m. to the building on Talbot Road East and Elm Street. People in the community say the building previously housed the Pogue Irish Pub.

An investigation to determine the cause of the explosion is underway, according to Chatham-Kent fire officials.

Kathryn Parent had just sat down for dinner at Renny’s Restuarant, just around the corner, when she heard the explosion go off.

“This huge blast-sounding kaboom happened. Things fell off the wall. The glass on the window exploded and rattled. The building shook,” said Parent, adding she had noticed fire trucks surrounding the area just hours before the explosion happened.

According to Chatham-Kent officials, monitoring devices placed at the site indicated the presence of gas at approximately 4:30 p.m. — about two hours before the explosion happened.

“Pray for our town. I mean we’re such a small town, a very tight community, and we’ve been just in turmoil since this happened,” said Wheatley Business Improvement Association member Kimberley Grant.

The municipality said Thursday that homes and businesses in the area have been evacuated and a reception centre has been set up at Wheatley Arena.

The explosion is in the vicinity of the location where hydrogen sulphide gas was first discovered back in June, prompting an evacuation order and the declaration of a state of emergency at the time.

In July, the municipality declared a second state of emergency after confirming hydrogen sulfide was once again present. The province was later tasked with investigating the source of the gas leaks, as the state of emergency remained in effect.

CTV News has created this timeline of the events in downtown Wheatley that led up to Thursday’s explosion.

The municipality said more information will be released Friday.

With files from CTV’s Angelo Aversa.

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