November 21, 2019

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One dead in house explosion

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Police tape surrounds a home on the 200 block of Queens Avenue East on Wednesday as the investigation continues into an explosion at the home on Tuesday evening. (Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun)

Police tape surrounds a home on the 200 block of Queens Avenue East on Wednesday as the investigation continues into an explosion at the home on Tuesday evening. (Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun)

A woman is dead and a man was sent to hospital in critical condition following an explosion at a house in Brandon Tuesday evening.

In a news release Wednesday morning, Brandon police said a 63-year-old woman was found dead in the home on the 200 block of Queens Avenue East following the explosion at 7:50 p.m.

Rick Eamer lives across the street from where the explosion occurred. (Bud Robertson/The Brandon Sun)

Rick Eamer lives across the street from where the explosion occurred. (Bud Robertson/The Brandon Sun)

The man, also 63, was airlifted to Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg in critical condition.

The names of the two had not been released Wednesday.

The news release said police and the Office of the Fire Commissioner are investigating the cause of the explosion as a strong smell of natural gas was noted in the area upon the arrival of emergency services personnel.

Manitoba Hydro media relations officer Bruce Owen said in an email Wednesday it is too early to speculate on what caused the explosion as the incident is still under investigation.

Brandon Police Service Staff Sgt. Kevin Loewen said an investigator from the Major Crimes unit is involved.

He cautioned, however, that it is routine for Major Crimes to be involved in such cases.

"Major Crimes investigates all matters like this, whether it’s fires or any type of significant event," he said.

The explosion shook neighbours’ homes and forced some to be briefly evacuated.

Police were on scene Wednesday as passersby gathered across from police tape to see the devastation for themselves.

Neighbours said the two had only moved into the house less than two months ago. A For Sale sign appeared on the lawn this week.

Rick Eamer, who lives across the street, said Wednesday he and his wife Marilyn were watching TV at the back of the house when they heard a "terrible bang."

His wife called 911 to report the sound.

"Finally, we went outside and, well, you couldn’t see because it was so dark," Eamer said.

"We went and looked and we realized, holy smokes, the whole house just blew up."

Eamer said they could smell natural gas in the air.

Emergency services personnel arrived, he said, and the man walked out of the house with a firefighter, who accompanied him to a waiting ambulance.

Eamer said he had only briefly spoken to the man in the past, when he could be seen working outside on the house.

Bill Stadnyk was sitting at his computer Tuesday evening in his house just south of where the explosion occurred.

"It was a weird kind of a sound," Stadnyk said. "I knew something happened."

He said he stayed in the house while his wife Carol walked down the street to investigate.

Stadnyk said he, too, had seen the man working on the house.

"I guess they were fixing it up," he said.

"We heard a loud explosion at our house two blocks away," one person wrote in a post on ebrandon.ca late Tuesday.

"It literally shook our house a bit and rattled the windows. We went outside to see what happened and talked with neighbours wondering the same thing.

"We thought maybe something happened at Koch Fertilizer. When we didn't see anything or hear any further noises, we went back inside. It wasn't until we heard the sirens that we walked further down Queens Avenue and saw the house that had exploded. Unbelievable."

On Wednesday morning, police tweeted that the area around the house remained closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic as they continued to investigation.

Students attending Green Acres School were advised to find an alternate route to school.

» brobertson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @BudRobertson4

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