KITCHENER, Ont. — A woman was killed and a man was airlifted to hospital after an explosion destroyed a home and started a fire in Kitchener, Ont., early Wednesday, authorities said as they worked to determine what had caused the blast.
Residents on a quiet street said they heard a loud boom a little after 8 a.m. and soon saw flames and heavy smoke coming from the rubble of a house. Emergency crews who rushed to the scene found parts of the home's roof on the ground and charred wood and other debris scattered in the area.
"The house has been levelled," Waterloo regional police spokeswoman Cherri Greeno told The Canadian Press.
Police said they believed everyone thought to have been at the home had been accounted for. Authorities did not release the names of the woman killed or the man who was taken to hospital, but said the man was in critical condition.
Mel Benoit, whose backyard is adjacent to the home, said he heard the blast and then saw two men coming out of the burning residence with an injured man.
"The man was just burned all over," said the 41-year-old. "I helped carry the man and put him on a lawn chair until EMS arrived."
The two men who had emerged from the shambles of the home said they had seen a woman inside but couldn't go back into what was left of the residence because of the fire and thick black smoke, Benoit said.
Louise Bulhman, who lives on the street where the explosion took place, said a couple lived in the home with their two dogs.
"We knew the couple just by their faces and their dogs, and sometimes we said hello," she said. "The one thing that I just can't get out of my head is that I heard those men screaming that there was a woman still inside the house."
Bulhman said she had been woken up by the sound of the blast and saw flames and rubble when she looked out her window. She said she and her daugther later found one of the couple's dogs outside what was left of the home and eventually handed the animal to the local humane society.
Police said there was no immediate word on the cause of the blast, but noted that they'd be looking at all possibilities.
"A house explosion like this obviously is cause for concern," said deputy police Chief Kevin Chalk.
"There could be a number of reasons for it — some of them would be criminal some would not be. All options are open at this point until we have a chance to get into the residence and do that examination."
By Wednesday evening a bulldozer had started sifting through the rubble on the street. The blast also shattered the windows of two nearby homes and blew the shingles off their roofs. Police said several other properties on the street were damaged by smoke.
Sixteen homes in the area were evacuated as a precaution with residents expected to be displaced for at least two days, fire officials said. Police said the Red Cross is helping those affected.
Fire Chief Jon Rehill said he estimates the damage to the home and others homes on the street to be worth "millions."
Alanna Rizza , The Canadian Press