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Mystery explosion damages 22 homes in Caledon


February 6, 2019   by Greg Meckbach


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Nearly two dozen homes were damaged after one fatal incident Sunday near Toronto.

An explosion demolished a house in Caledon, killing Joseph Westcott and damaging neighbouring properties, The Canadian Press reported. About 22 homes were “damaged to varying degrees,” Andrea Gaynor, fire investigation supervisor for the office of the Ontario Fire Marshall and Emergency Management, told Canadian Underwriter.

The damage is not likely to “reach the level of a catastrophe from insurance perspective,” an Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesperson said Tuesday. A catastrophe is generally defined as an incident that causes $25 million or more in insured losses.

Published reports indicate the home destroyed in Sunday’s explosion was on Maple Grove Rd., near Highway 10 about 40 kilometres northwest of Toronto International Airport. More than 30 people were evacuated at first, CP reported.

There is no word yet on what caused the explosion.

The Office of the Fire Marshall is investigating. “Poor weather … may delay our investigative efforts,” Gaynor wrote Tuesday in an email to Canadian Underwriter. Freezing rain and ice pellets fell Wednesday throughout much of the greater Toronto area.

As of Tuesday, some residents in Caledon were still not allowed back into their homes. The Town of Caledon borders Brampton to the north. Caledon firefighters went into some homes to check for flooding and sump pumps to limit any damage, wrote Gaynor.

When first responders arrived at the scene early Sunday morning, they found that the house was completely levelled by the explosion, Caledon Fire Chief Darryl Bailey told CP.

Investigators believe there was only person in the house at the time of the blast.

Sunday’s explosion took place about 50 kilometres northwest of a much larger house explosion less than three years ago. In June 2016, an explosion at a home on Hickory Dr. in Mississauga damaged or destroyed the homes of 800 residents, as reported by CityNews. The Toronto Star quoted an Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario as saying the 2016 explosion was caused by the “intentional disconnect of the natural gas piping in two locations” from the house water heater. The Star quoted police as saying that explosion resulted from a double suicide.

-With files from The Canadian Press