3 people injured and 2 buildings heavily damaged in Wheatley, Ont., after explosion

A heavily damaged building can be seen in Wheatley, Ont. Handout / Greg Hetherington

Two buildings have been damaged and three people have been injured after an explosion in Wheatley, Ont. Thursday evening.

Officials with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent said in a statement late Thursday that emergency crews were first called to the area of Erie Street and Talbot Road at around 4:30 p.m. after monitoring devices alerted an increased presence of gas, triggering a small evacuation.

However, as those crews began a wider evacuation, officials said that’s when the blast occurred. Photos posted on social media Thursday evening appeared to show varying damage to multiple properties.

“Buildings destroyed on main [street],” Chatham–Kent–Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls wrote in a Facebook post Thursday evening.
“Cause not yet determined. I’ve reached out to the Minister of Natural [Resources] and Forestry and forwarded pics just in case the determination is a gas leak.”
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Damaged buildings can be seen in Wheatley, Ont. Bobby Lavoie

Officials confirmed three people were treated by paramedics for non-life-threatening injuries.

Fire department personnel said residents near the scene who haven’t been evacuated should be prepared to leave.

An update issued by Ontario Provincial Police said the Wheatley Area Arena was being opened for people who were displaced by the explosion.

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Crews with the Ontario government’s hazardous materials and urban search and rescue teams were called to assist.

The incident came nearly three months after a state of emergency was declared in the same area after officials said a naturally occurring hydrogen sulphide gas leak was detected. Residents had to be evacuated at that time.

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In July, a second state of emergency was declared after hydrogen sulphide gas was detected at a commercial building on Erie Street North. Officials noted in the statement that emergency declaration wasn’t rescinded.

Images shared on social media appeared to show the heaviest damage at the site identified in July.

Meanwhile, officials said an update would be issued on Friday.

Wheatley is located just north of Point Pelee National Park and approximately 35 minutes southwest of Chatham.

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