UPDATE: Explosion destroys home near downtown Nanaimo

Photo credit: @Marni99/Twitter

Multiple people are hurt after an explosion completely destroyed a home near downtown Nanaimo Sunday night.

The incident happened at around 8:20 p.m. at a home on Pine Street, located beside the cemetery at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. It is not clear whether anyone was inside the home at the time of the explosion.

Multiple emergency first responders are on scene including BC Emergency Health Services, Nanaimo RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue. BC Hydro and FortisBC are also on scene.

At least two people have been taken to hospital with minor injuries, while four other patients received treatment by paramedics on scene for minor injuries, a spokesperson for BC Emergency Health Services told CHEK News.

“Four paramedic units, a paramedic supervisor and the district manager for the area responded to the scene. Two patients were transported to hospital with minor injuries and four patients were treated by paramedics at the scene for minor injuries,” the spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

One nearby resident told CHEK News two people in a home nearby suffered injuries from shattering window glass in their home due to the explosion.

Nanaimo RCMP says it is believed to natural gas explosion and that the impact caused the phone lines at the RCMP detachment to go down.

Reserve Constable Gary O’Brien, spokesperson with Nanaimo RCMP says the house had been vacant for about a month before the incident.

“We’ve confirmed the house appears to house was vacant, it had been for about a month,” O’Brien said. “The previous tenants were evicted almost four weeks ago, and the owner lives several houses down.”

O’Brien says shards of glass from the windows caused extensive damage to the neighbouring house and injured two of the occupants, but O’Brien could not give any further information about the two injured people other than their injuries were minor.

He says St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, which is the neighbour building to the other side, did not sustain any damage in the incident.

O’Brien says it is too early to determine if there is any criminality, but it is believed to be due to the gas and FortisBC will be looking into it today to determine more.

Sean Beardow, manager of corporate communications with FortisBC says it is too early to determine the cause of the incident, but an investigation is taking place today.

He says crews were on scene last night until about midnight, and did a survey of the nearby gas lines to ensure there was no further risk.

Beardow says crews put a cap on the line of the damaged house to ensure the safety of the emergency services and additional crews on site.

Geoff Whiting, deputy chief with Nanaimo Fire said the explosion from the house shook the main fire hall.

He says when crews arrived on scene, the house was completely destroyed and there was no active fire.

A big boom

The blast and shockwave that followed could be felt as away as Lantzville.

“It was this huge blue flash and we thought something hit the yard … then the house shook,” said Barb Moraes, who lives nearby, told CHEK News on scene.

Multiple others who were on scene when CHEK News arrived all described hearing a loud boom or feeling a shockwave.

Richard Parldy who lives nearby said they saw a bright flash, then heard a loud boom, explaining that he figured it must have been nearby because it was so loud and short-lasting. He also said he then went outside and eventually saw that a house was missing.

“That is very sobering to see nothing there,” he told CHEK News “It leaves me shaken.”

Jackson Marriott told CHEK News he was in North Nanaimo and felt the explosion.

“You could just feel an explosion in your chest,” he said. “We were so confused as to what it was. You could faintly hear it. So, we thought maybe it was a car accident, maybe somebody took out a telephone pole or a transformer or something.”

Marriott said not long after a bunch of police vehicles drove past him and the others he was with and decided to come down and see what was going on.

“So we thought we gotta go check this out,” he said, adding. “We got down here and it was way bigger than I thought. It was such a huge explosion just looking at the rubble.”

This is a developing story and will be updated when more information becomes available

Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod
Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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