‘He saved his family’: friends of family caught in Mississauga explosion say father is a hero

Tenants of the building that exploded on Sunday talk to Global News about their loss and a heroic story of a father saving his family from the collapsing structure. Jamie Mauracher reports.

Yehya Soliman can’t believe the space he once rented for his business has been reduced to rubble, after an explosion happened inside a commercial building in Mississauga early Sunday morning.

Soliman is just one of many business owners and residents displaced by the blast.

“All your future — all your business — everything went down in flames,” Soliman said.

In the leftover remains, Soliman could see a filing cabinet that used to be in his office and a bed frame that belonged to the family of three who were in the building at the time of the explosion.

“They woke up to a big bang — like a big blast — that sounded like a bomb,” said Soliman’s wife, Jeena.

The couple visited the family of three in hospital and told them they are lucky to be alive.

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“A lot of things started to fall on [the father],” said Soliman.

READ MORE: Dozens of residents displaced after explosion in Mississauga

“The roof was falling. He had cuts on his head and his back was injured… He saved his family,” said Soliman.

“Just two minutes after they got out, the entire roof collapsed,” Jeena said.

Global News spoke with the father, who said while his family is shaken and exhausted, they are now recovering, having been released from hospital.

Police and fire crews were called to a plaza near the area of Dundas and Hurontario streets at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday after reports of a fire and explosion. One day later, they are still trying to determine the cause.

“You got to give us an opportunity to continue to explore the damage that we’ve got and the impacts, and to work with all the allied agencies that we’ve got going on,” Mississauga fire chief Tim Beckett told reporters at a press briefing Monday morning.

Authorities said one man was transported to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries and a woman and child both sustained minor injuries. Beckett told reporters on Sunday that all three are recovering well.

Two other people were assessed by paramedics but released at the scene.

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Officials said the north end of the commercial complex collapsed and the blast caused damage to nearby apartments and businesses. Residents living in the building across the street of the explosion were told to leave as a precaution.

VIDEO: Mississauga fire department outlines damage in vicinity of explosion

Mississauga fire department outlines damage in vicinity of explosion
Mississauga fire department outlines damage in vicinity of explosion

The Mississauga Fire chief estimated around 50 people were displaced because of the explosion and directed to Mississauga Valley Community Centre for shelter on Sunday.

Officials said on Monday that residents have since been moved to hotels for the next few days. It’s not clear when they’ll be allowed to return home.

“The building has been cleared by building staff inspectors as being safe but we’ve now got windows that are blown out and all those need to be rectified before we can move people back in and we have to make sure we got gas back on in the area,” Beckett said.

Meanwhile, Peel District School Board said TL Kennedy Secondary School on Hurontario Street was closed on Monday to make sure the building was secure and safe.

Police said Hurontario Street will remain closed between Hillcrest Avenue and Dundas Street for the investigation. However, businesses located between Agnes Street and Dundas Street are open and pedestrian traffic has been permitted.

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The Ontario Fire Marshal and Mississauga Fire have yet to determine the cause of the explosion, but Peel police said there is currently nothing criminal with the investigation.

“I don’t have any comment into the cause, expected cause, predicted cause, any of that right now. It’s way too early,” Beckett said.

“The fire marshal is going through a debris field right now in front of the building and as they finish up with the debris field we’ll continue to work towards looking after the building itself and getting into the deep part of the investigation.”​

VIDEO: Road closures announced following explosion in Mississauga

Road closures announced following explosion in Mississauga
Road closures announced following explosion in Mississauga

—With a file from Erica Vella