'The whole place was shaking': Community reacts to Wheatley, Ont. explosion
Rayon Henderson and his wife were making dinner for their children when they heard an explosion across the street from their Whealty, Ont. residence.
“I heard a loud explosion and I look and saw like smoke and light of fire go up in the air. The whole place was shaking,” he told CTV News.
His children, three and one and a half were in the front room playing when the blast went off.
“All the windows in the front blew out and my two kids were playing in the living room at the time and they were traumatized,” Henderson explained. “We grabbed them and ran out.”
“Sounded like a bomb dropped from an airplane or something,” he said.
Emergency crews were called to the scene around 6:30 p.m. to a building on Talbot Road East and Elm Street, which previously houses the Pogue Irish Pub.
The explosion happened near the area where hydrogen sulphide gas was first discovered back in June, prompting an evacuation order and the declaration of a state of emergency.
Bharat Prajapati who owns the Subway across the street from where the explosion happened said there were three employees in the restaurant who were thankfully working toward the back, and there were no customers inside at the time.
“They had a little bit of scratch, by the glasses, but not major injury,” he said.
The explosion is devastating to the business which has been hammered throughout the pandemic, and was shut down for 15 days last month after another emergency order was issued due to the gas leak. It will now be closed indefinitely. While explaining this to CTV, Prajapati got emotional.
“So I hope we get the compensation,” Prajapati said through tears.
The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal confirmed investigators are currently on scene and are looking into the cause of the explosion.
Messages of support are pouring in for those impacted by the explosion that sent three people to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Chatham-Kent EMS general manager Donald McLelland was away during the event but said in a tweet he is proud of the “outstanding response” by the Chatham-Kent EMS staff, Chatham-Kent fire department, police and Essex Windsor EMS partners.
“Amazing collaboration and joint efforts on providing care and support for all,” he said. “Thank you everyone!”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford thanked the first responders as well, saying the province will work will the Municipality of Chatham-Kent to support them anyway it can.
“This is such horrible news. My heart goes out to those who were injured,” he said. “Thank you to all the first responders who were on scene to help.”
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens also offered up the support of the City of Windsor should Chatham-Kent need.
“I’m saddened over the devastating news out of Wheatley. My thoughts are with all residents, business owners and EMS affected by this tragedy,” he said. “Windsor is ready to lend our support in whatever way is needed.”
The Wheatley Arena has been opened to those displaced by the exposition and city transportation has been made available.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected by yesterday’s events in Wheatley,” a tweet from Windsor Police Service said. “We wish everyone who was injured a speedy and full recovery.”
CTV News has created this timeline of the events in downtown Wheatley that led up to Thursday's explosion.
- With quotes from CTV Windsor's Bob Bellacicco