Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Virden explosion 'went off like a bomb'

Firefighters battle a fire that consumed two homes on Thompson Place in Virden on Friday morning. Both homes were destroyed by the fire that was started by a gas explosion in one of the homes. (Tim Smith/Brandon Sun)

TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Firefighters battle a fire that consumed two homes on Thompson Place in Virden on Friday morning. Both homes were destroyed by the fire that was started by a gas explosion in one of the homes. (Tim Smith/Brandon Sun)

VIRDEN — A gas line explosion that "went off like a bomb" shattered a quiet morning in Virden Friday, destroying one house, severely damaging another and sending one man to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Around 9 a.m., an employee from Manitoba Hydro’s Brandon dispatch was sent to Thompson Place following a complaint about a "natural gas smell."

Firefighters work together to contain the blaze. (Tim Smith/Brandon Sun)

Enlarge Image

Firefighters work together to contain the blaze. (Tim Smith/Brandon Sun) (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)

A firefighter takes a much-needed oxygen break Friday morning while the fire continues to burn. (Tim Smith/Brandon Sun)

Enlarge Image

A firefighter takes a much-needed oxygen break Friday morning while the fire continues to burn. (Tim Smith/Brandon Sun)

A trapped in the basement of one of the homes was taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Enlarge Image

A trapped in the basement of one of the homes was taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. (HEATHER REIMER/CJ RADIO)

The caller "believed that he may have hit a gas line while pounding some metal stakes into the ground" while building a fence, according to Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Scott Powell.

Shortly thereafter, there was an explosion that startled townspeople in neighbourhoods near and far.

"It went off like a bomb," said one resident. "It shook windows and doors all over town."

Manitoba Hydro said that an employee was on scene minutes after the explosion. He was not injured, but he was "shaken, but thankfully is otherwise OK — a little bit singed, I understand," Powell said. There were additional Hydro crews on scene to assist emergency personnel.

The Wallace and District Fire Department arrived at the scene minutes after the explosion.

Wendy Hunt lives two houses from the explosion. She and her husband were just eating breakfast when they heard a big boom.

"We went flying down the stairs, went outside and the one man from Hydro called to us and told us to phone 911 and by that time the house was in flames," Hunt said.

One man was trapped in the basement of the house.

"The roof was on top of him, and they just basically got rid of all the lumber and household stuff on top of him and pulled him out with their bare hands," fire Chief Brad Yochim said.

The man suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to Virden hospital.

One firefighter who helped dig out the man was taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

As of noon yesterday, he was still in the hospital under observation but was fine, according to Yochim.

A RCMP press release said two of their officers were treated and released at the scene for minor injuries.

Frank Debarr’s house next door to the explosion was severely damaged when it caught fire from the explosion.

"You hear this on the news but you never think it would happen to you," Debarr said while standing on the street looking at what was left of his house. He was still clearly shocked from the morning’s events.

Debarr and his family have a place to stay, but they’ll have to replace most of their belongings.

Virden Mayor Jeff McConnell was impressed with the prompt response of emergency crews, having heard their sirens go off minutes after the initial boom was heard.

"I’ll tell you when I was watching some of it (the fire department) clearly working very hard to save (Hunt’s house). That one was in danger of getting lost as well, but they did manage to save it," McConnell said.

For Hunt, this wasn’t the first time being in the vicinity of a house explosion. She has lived on the street for 20 years, but had previously lived in the Northwest Territories.

"We had a house down the block from us blow from a gas line also. So we’ve seen it before. And they were building a fence, so we just put two and two together and thought, uh-oh, somebody’s ruptured the line," Hunt said.

Christina Oberlin works at the Virden Pioneer Home Museum, which is located a few blocks from the explosion. When she felt the museum shake, she went outside to see what was happening.

"All the neighbours were already in the street, nobody really knew what happened. And then a couple of minutes later there was a whole bunch of black smoke in the sky, so it was a little scary," Oberlin said.

They were supposed to be having a Museum Day yesterday afternoon with games and a barbecue, but decided to reschedule it to Aug. 21 out of respect for those in the community affected by the explosion.

A spokesperson with the Office of the Fire Commissioner confirmed yesterday afternoon that the explosion was the result of a "rupture of a gas line outside one of the homes as a result of work done outside the home. Natural gas then filtered into the home and was likely ignited by a pilot light."

The cost of damages to the houses is currently unknown. The house that exploded was almost completely flattened and Debarr’s house was severely damaged.

» arobinson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @ashleymr1993

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 8, 2015

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

VIRDEN — A gas line explosion that "went off like a bomb" shattered a quiet morning in Virden Friday, destroying one house, severely damaging another and sending one man to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Around 9 a.m., an employee from Manitoba Hydro’s Brandon dispatch was sent to Thompson Place following a complaint about a "natural gas smell."

Please subscribe to view full article.

Already subscribed? Login to view full article.

Not yet a subscriber? Click here to sign up

VIRDEN — A gas line explosion that "went off like a bomb" shattered a quiet morning in Virden Friday, destroying one house, severely damaging another and sending one man to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Around 9 a.m., an employee from Manitoba Hydro’s Brandon dispatch was sent to Thompson Place following a complaint about a "natural gas smell."

Subscription required to view full article.

A subscription to the Brandon Sun Newspaper is required to view this article. Please update your user information if you are already a newspaper subscriber.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun - Readers Choice Results
Why Not Minot?

Social Media