Edmonton house explosion kills 2

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Two people are confirmed dead and at least one other person is missing after an explosion destroyed a home and rocked an Edmonton neighbourhood.

Two people are confirmed dead and at least one other person is missing after an explosion destroyed a home in north Edmonton on Sunday afternoon.

Two people died after a home at 91 Street and 180A Avenue exploded at about 1:30 p.m. MT. The names and genders of the victims were not released.

Officials said at least one person was missing. It's believed three people were injured and several others were treated in hospital for shock.

It was not clear what caused the explosion.

"[We found] upon arrival ... one house completely demolished - we're calling that like almost ground zero - a crater there. And another building right next to it that is completely destroyed as well but still has a bit of standing structure to it," said Edmonton fire Chief Robert D'Aoust.

At least 20 homes were damaged. Nothing was left of one home but a crater, two other homes were demolished, two more sustained severe structural damage and about 15 other homes in the area suffered significant damage.

D'Aoust said the blast also ignited several external fires in the area, including a wildfire and several vehicle fires.

Mathieu Comeault, 18, was across the street in his house when the blast hit.

"I wasn't sure what happened," he said. "I thought maybe a tree had fallen into our house or a car hit our house because it felt like it was immediate, like something happened right there."

Comeault ran outside and saw debris littering the street.

When he heard people yelling that there were people trapped inside one of the homes, Comeault and several others leapt into action.

"Me and probably about three other guys went up to the door there and ... we pulled the one woman out of the basement and we took her kid and I passed him down to somebody else."

D'Aoust said the woman and her son were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
'The house was gone'

People several streets away reported feeling the blast. Debris and glass were scattered for hundreds of metres.

"I was having a little nap and I heard this big explosion and jumped off the bed and my mirror shattered before it fell on the floor, pictures fell on the floor," one woman living nearby said.

"I went up to where [the house] was, and the house was gone."

Lynn Bender, who lives nearby, felt the blast in her home.

"I was sitting in my living room and I heard a really big boom and my whole house shook, so I thought something in my house might have happened," she said.

Officials estimate at least 70 people were ordered to leave their homes because of the explosion. It was not clear when residents would be allowed to return. D'Aoust said most evacuees were staying with friends and family.

Officials said rescue crews were sorting through the destruction and had blocked off streets leading to the area. Crews planned to remain on the scene through the night Sunday to sift through debris.

Hazardous materials crews swept the area and no unnatural chemicals were detected. Officials set up a decontamination site on scene where crew members were rinsed off as they left the scene.

Officials said the situation had stabilized and no secondary explosions were expected.
 
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