Residents return home to survey aftermath of London explosion
As the community in London’s Old East Village banded together in the wake of a devastating blast, some were given the green light to return to their homes.
Restoration crews, insurance adjusters, and those drawn to the epicentre of the explosion out of sheer curiosity converged on the historic neighbourhood.
Many of the homes are more than a century old and boast plaques in recognition of their storied pasts.
Of the 100 homes evacuated Wednesday night, City of London officials said eight along Woodman Avenue remained unsafe. By Friday evening, demolition work began on a couple of homes damaged beyond repair.
In a statement issued by the City, the London Fire Department pegs the total damage at between $10 and $15 million.
Kevin Wood and Patty Peirce were able to return to their home located a street away from Woodman Avenue. The gaping hole where a home once stood and the surrounding wreckage is clearly visible from their backyard.
“The community as a whole is beautiful — very accommodating,” said Wood, getting emotional at times.
“Our neighbour owns a business on Dundas Street, so there was about 15 or 20 of us that were evacuated and it was getting chilly that night. So we all stayed at her business.”
Apart from a few items falling off the walls inside his home and a significant divot and plenty of debris in his backyard, Wood acknowledged he was lucky by comparison.
There have been no reported deaths as a result of the explosion. Four firefighters and two police officers were among those treated and transported to hospital.
Nikki Best was in her hot tub the evening the colossal boom ripped through the neighbourhood.
“I can still feel the boom inside. It shook me inside to my core,” she said.
A surveillance camera positioned in Best’s backyard captured the moment she, her partner, and her friend bolted from the backyard after hearing the blast and seeing the enormous plume in the sky.
“When we saw it go up and all of the debris, we really couldn’t tell. It almost looked like it was coming at us, which was the panic to get out of the tub and get out of here,” Best said.
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