It was anything but an ordinary night for residents of Woodman Ave. in London, Ont., jolted first by a crash and then a major explosion.
Police say a vehicle driven by an alleged impaired driver crashed into the front of a home in London’s Old East Village neighbourhood, striking a gas metre at the front of the house, resulting in a leak.
That set off an explosion just over 10 minutes later that all but obliterated the building and severely damaged homes to the immediate north and south — one of them belonging to Chris Patterson.
WATCH: Investigators survey the damage after massive explosion in London, Ont.
Patterson, who lives next to the house that exploded, 450 Woodman Ave., and works at nearby Powerhouse Brewing Company, told 980 CFPL he arrived home from work and was enjoying a glass of wine with his girlfriend, Laura, and her cousin when they heard a very loud bang.
The trio immediately ran out to investigate, only to find a car half-inside their neighbour’s home. No one was home at the time.
He said he was met by other neighbours outside whose first instinct was to try and free the driver inside.
“I used a brick from the house to shatter a window. All our neighbours were involved as well and we tried to use the right course of action,” he told 980 CFPL’s London Live with Mike Stubbs on Thursday.
“By the time we finally got her out, the first responders were there and they asked us to leave the premises and get away because we could smell gas at that point.”
Not long after, the explosion occurred, he said.
“It was wild, it was like something out of a movie,” Patterson recalled.
WATCH: aftermath of massive explosion that jolted a London, Ont. neighbourhood.
Patterson said neighbours down the street allowed them to take shelter in their homes, away from the raining debris.
Fire officials said Thursday that falling debris was to blame for fires in at least seven other homes in the immediate vicinity.
“We had fire that literally went up in the air as part of the explosion and came down on other homes and started them on fire,” said Jack Burt, London’s acting deputy fire chief at the scene.
Around 100 homes in the area were forced to evacuate and gas and hydro service was shut off to the area.
Things returned to normal for most residents by Friday morning. City officials announced Friday afternoon that eight homes, all along Woodman Avenue, remained unsafe. The home that was destroyed by the explosion is counted in the tally, officials said.
Patterson’s home was severely damaged in the blast and as of Friday evening was being readied for demolition. Another home, located on the other side of 450 Woodman, may also be demolished, officials said.
“We are lucky enough to be in a situation where my parents are from London, so I’m going to stay at their place,” Patterson said Thursday, adding he was sending his thoughts and prayers to everyone who was impacted.
“We want our community to stay strong, and that’s why we help out everyone when these bad situations happen.”
A 23-year-old Kitchener woman is facing multiple impaired driving-related offences.