10 people injured in possible natural gas explosion at 19 Wing Comox

Dean Stoltz/CHEK News
Emergency crews respond to 19 Wing Comox following a natural gas explosion Nov. 18, 2021.

Ten people were injured in a possible natural gas explosion at 19 Wing Comox that also partially collapsed a building.

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed it was called to the airbase at CFB Comox at around 9:15 a.m., including an air ambulance, following the explosion.

Ten people have been cared for by paramedics, EHS said, including one patient in “serious condition” who was flown to hospital by 442 Squadron’s Cormorant helicopter. Three others were taken to hospital by ground ambulance in stable condition and six patients were treated at the base’s medical unit.

There’s no official word if the victims are military personnel or contractors who were working on the building.

It’s unclear how the explosion happened. Many reported hearing the loud blast just after 9 a.m. Thursday.

“We live on Daye Road and it shook the whole house, the windows rattled,” said Rick Tarris.

Brenda Cardinal was working out at the 19 Wing Fitness and Community Centre just outside the base.

“I was on the treadmill and the treadmill actually moved. Huge explosion,” she said.

Tanya Dennis was dropping off her child at a nearby daycare centre.

“And I came up to the stop sign and I was stopped and I heard three big bangs and I had no idea what it was and my heart just started racing so I backed up and looked out to the base and saw a building had exploded,” said Dennis.

Officials tell CHEK News the damaged building is an old barracks building on Heritage Way that was unoccupied and being renovated.

The 19 Wing fire department was on the scene and Comox Fire Department was on standby outside the base.

The cause has not yet been confirmed but air operations were not affected, Lt. Col. Mike Juillet told CHEK News.

The Town of Comox Fire Department was paged out to a report of a natural gas leak at the same location moments after the explosion occurred and FortisBC crews were seen entering the base after the blast.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth commented on the blast during an afternoon press briefing regarding the ongoing flood response in southern BC.

“Emergency Responders are on the site and doing everything they can there. Fortis and safety officers from Technical Safety BC are working closely on this event,” he said.

Crews from the airbase have been assisting in evacuations from flood-stricken B.C. areas like Agassiz, sending in Cormorants to lift people to safety.


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