State of emergency declared after hazmat situation in downtown Wheatley
A state of emergency has been declared and several homes have been evacuated after a hazmat situation in downtown Wheatley.
Chatham Kent Fire Service crews from Wheatley and Tilbury attended 16 Erie Street North in downtown Wheatley Wednesday just before 2:30 p.m. for a reported gas leak.
“It’s definitely not natural gas,” said Chatham-Kent fire chief Chris Case. “This is predominantly the type of response we get from an old gas well or capped well. It’s typical of that type of release.”
Windsor Hazmat team attended Wednesday evening to assist.
Several businesses with residential apartments above them were evacuated as a precaution. Police were also on scene and closed the road due to the strong odour.
Bob Smith was one of the 27 residents evacuated from the area.
“Finally got me up, came down and moved on to elsewhere for the night and went to work,” he said.
Gas service to eight adjoining buildings was turned off and purged to rule out natural gas as the cause.
Businesses like the Car Barn restaurant have been shut down.
Owner Barry Broadbent is worried about the food he has in storage, with the electricity to the building shut off.
“The actual area that’s being affected seems to be around the corner from us, so hopefully we’ll be able to get the hydro up and running and get everything back to normal,” Broadbent said.
Chatham-Kent fire officials say it is not a gas leak. Enbridge Gas was there to assist the fire department and as a precaution have shutoff gas to possibly effected homes.
Personnel from CK Police Service, CK EMS and Enbridge also attended.
“We’ve shut off the hydro and we’re trying to make sure that there’s absolutely no chance of gas being ignited,” Case said. “It is very dangerous. Gas coming up from the ground which is why we’re taking a level of precaution.”
The Provincial Ministry of Environment was also on scene and the Ministry of Natural Resources has been informed.
Case said the gas is consistent with a leak coming from a well, however, that has yet to be determined.
The municipality has contacted an expert who is on the way to determine the source of the leak and recommend how to move forward.
There is no indication at this time as to when gas will be restored to the buildings or when the Fire Department will lift the evacuation order.
The state of emergency remains in effect and the public is asked to avoid the area.