Durham Regional Police say a 48-year-old man has been charged following a house explosion in Whitby on Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators said Thursday they believe the explosion occurred when butane was being used in the production of cannabis oil.
“What we believe happened here was a guy that was renting a basement apartment in that place was cooking, using butane, to create cannabis oil, which is illegal and that led to the explosion,” Durham police spokesman Dave Selby said.
Initially police said the explosion could have been caused by problems with a gas line, but was later deemed suspicious.
Three people were injured following the explosion, which occurred around 3 p.m. on Cedar Street in the area of Garden Street and Dundas Street East.
The house could be seen with damage to its front and one of its exterior walls, which was blown out.
Three males were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. All three have since been released.
One of the men released, identified by police as 48-year-old Jody Cormier of Whitby, is the person facing charges of criminal negligence, arson with disregard of human life and another offence under the Cannabis Act.
Police said the accused was released from police custody on a promise to appear in court.
Selby said it’s not uncommon to find explosions of this nature, however the size of the blast is a concern.
“People are cooking up cannabis oil and the stuff is incredibly volatile,” Selby said.
“So we’ve seen explosions like this before. Probably not this serious. This is a very large explosion.”
Officials said the home is structurally unsound and the police investigation is ongoing.
“I also spoke with the insurance company this morning and they are going to have to provide an excavator or something for us because we’re going to have to take down this one wall,” Andrea Gaynor, an investigator for the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office said.
“This is the type of explosion that the blast pressure wave moves at less than 1000 metres per second. So we know that explosions that happen in that fashion are either natural gas, methane, butane, some type of gas orientated explosion. That’s something we are going to have to work through.”
Anyone with new information about this incident is asked to contact the Central West Division Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-888-579-1520 or Durham Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
WATCH: Whitby Fire says all three men are expected to survive and now the fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause. Kamil Karamali reports.
–With a file from David Shum