Emergency crews are on the site of an explosion and house fires in Calgary’s Marlborough neighbourhood.
Calgary Fire Department Chief Steve Dongworth said a house in the 700 block of Maryvale Way N.E. exploded at around 8:50 a.m. on Monday.
“The crews actually felt it in the fire station at 12 Station in Forest Heights, and many of the neighborhood folks would have felt that as well,” he said.
CCTV footage from a nearby business obtained by Global News shows a red fireball, flying debris and subsequent mushroom cloud rising up above the surrounding neighbourhood at that time.
The fire chief said one house was completely destroyed and two other nearby houses caught fire. Eight other homes were damaged by debris.
Dongworth said black smoke was immediately evident, and crews took care in their approach while immediately starting an attack with a second alarm. Fire medics also jumped into action.
“The priority in this case actually was dealing with patients who were very evident (on the scene). There was one patient hanging from the window of the source house when we arrived,” the fire chief said.
Alberta Health Services EMS responded with multiple units.
EMS spokesperson Adam Loria said 10 individuals were transported to hospitals around the city, all adults. When assessed at the scene, six were in life-threatening condition and four were in serious but not life-threatening condition.
At the height of the response, 21 fire units were there working in concert with EMS and police.
Loria called getting the 10 victims triaged and out to hospitals “teamwork with a capital ‘T.’”
“It was a fairly large scene with multiple access and egress points,” Loria said, noting there were multiple triage areas on the scene. “That’s when communication and teamwork come into play.”
“All patients were transported immediately, once we could properly assess and determine the severity of their injuries.”
Neighbour Chelsea Todd was woken up by a “huge boom” Monday morning.
“I ran outside to check what it was and then I noticed that the house was on fire,” Todd told Global News. “There was a gentleman trying to come out, so we pulled him to the side and there was two other guys crawling out of the basement.”
Todd said there were five or six people in the home at the time.
Don Phelps said he heard two “loud booms” five seconds apart that shook his home and knocked power out in his home a block away.
Enmax said a unscheduled power outage hit Forest Heights, Franklin, Marlborough and Marlborough Park neighbourhoods at around 8:50 a.m. on Monday morning.
“I knew something wasn’t good. I’ve never heard anything so loud. I thought my house was falling over,” Phelps said.
Marei Claire and her family were at home when they heard a loud explosion that morning. She said she started feeling scared because her house was shaking.
“I was afraid for my kids,” she told Global News in French. “When I got out, I saw a lot of flames and debris… I heard a woman scream for help.”
Claire said she was scared the entire neighbourhood would catch on fire. She said the flames looked really close to her house, which was right across the street.
Dongworth said Atco and Enmax crews were on the scene shutting down utilities in the immediate area.
Atco told Global News no natural gas-related service calls in the area have been made in the past.
A Calgary Transit bus was there as a warming station for families who were evacuated from their homes.
Phelps pointed to a piece of wood resting on a nearby telephone pole.
“To see plywood sitting on the top of a telephone pole… you can’t throw it up there. Something got it up there. It’s sobering.”
Dongworth said it’s still too early to determine the cause of the explosion.
“This will be a long operation,” the fire chief said. “We still can’t get into the basement of the source home.”
More to come…
–with files from Michael King and Paula Tran, Global News