Family displaced by blast in east Ottawa moved in days earlier
Danish Muneer’s family moved into their townhouse in Minto Avalon Vista in east Ottawa last Thursday night.
A few nights later, her life was turned upside down when an explosion rocked her new home and neighborhood early Monday morning.
“Mentally we’re scared and shocked,” said Muneer, who lives at 165 Shallow Pond Place.
That’s just yards from the four homes under construction on nearby Blossom Pass Terrace that were hardest hit by the blast, according to Ottawa Fire Services.
Muneer was out of town when his wife, two daughters – one a four-month-old baby – and a visiting cousin fled the “dark and smoky” scene.
His absence only made the situation more depressing, he said.
“I couldn’t help [them].”
The roof has come down, Mama says
Sana Mohammad Asghar, Muneer’s wife, said she and their two children were sleeping in the same bed when the blast toppled part of the roof onto their two-year-old daughter.
“There was smoke and dust and I couldn’t see anything,” she said.
Mohammad Asghar finally grabbed both children and ran out of the house.
She said she injured her knee, back and shoulders.
“It hurts, but I can deal with it.”
Mahpara Anwer Ansari, Muneer’s visiting cousin, said part of the house fell on her as well.
“I couldn’t get up. I was trying to push the roof… whatever was on me,” she said, adding that she eventually walked away and went downstairs, walking barefoot over glass.
“That was crazy,” she said.
Muneer said his family could not return home because police cordoned off the area. The family resides in Stittsville and Barrhaven.
“I know the roof is seriously damaged as we had debris in our bedrooms,” he said.
“It was so traumatic.”
The son’s bedroom window shattered
Another Shallow Pond Place resident, Geoff Pasowysty, reported similar damage and shared a photo of his six-year-old son Logan pointing to a large hole in his bedroom window.
“I can’t believe the glass shattered all over my kid’s bed and they were smart enough not to walk in,” he said.
Pasowysty said his front door and garage door were also forced open and the locks smashed.
“We’ve heard many similar stories from many other people who live here in the Minto houses,” he said.
He was allowed to return to his home on Monday afternoon to collect some necessities and his family will be accommodated in a hotel, he added.
Simerdeep Singh, who lives north of the blast scene on Fairlakes Way, said he was told to leave his home by police about an hour after the blast.
“It was really a confusing situation for … everyone,” he said outside a Minto sales center where the company had invited affected residents to take shelter.
The Ottawa Police Service said it couldn’t confirm how many homes were damaged but said the trail of destruction was quite large.
Workers rescued from rubble
The fire department said the explosion was caused by a gas leak.
Enbridge, which supplies natural gas to the region, cut off supplies to 27 homes for safety reasons.
The Office of the Fire Marshal said it dispatched an initial team of six, including investigators, to determine the cause, origin and circumstances of the blast.
The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), Ontario’s regulator of fuel, boilers, pressure vessels and lifting equipment, is also investigating what happened.
The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development is also investigating as the explosion occurred at a construction site supervised by Minto Construction.
Kim Ayotte, general manager for rescue and protection services in Ottawa, said the people rescued from the rubble were laborers, although it’s unclear which company employs them.
Brent Strachan, President of Minto Communities Canada, told CBC radio Ottawa morning Tuesday that no Minto employee was physically injured but some were traumatized by what they saw at the blast site.
30 families still cannot return home
Avalon Vista is a new neighborhood being built by Minto, one of Ottawa’s largest real estate companies, approximately 20 kilometers east of downtown Ottawa.
A site plan for Avalon Vista on Minto’s website includes blueprints for more than 100 single-family and townhouses.
Strachan said about 30 families live in Avalon Vista and are yet to return home.
Another six families wanted to move in this week, and about 100 homes are under construction.
“They had a combination of houses at basically every stage of construction, as well as a few families that had moved into the area in the past few months,” Strachan said.
Once the investigation into what happened is complete, nearby houses can be inspected and they can leave from there.
Ottawa Firefighters said Tuesday morning that residents looking for information can walk further north on Tenth Line Road to the Ray Friel Recreation Complex’s Queensway Room from 9 a.m