Two people were injured and multiple homes damaged in an explosion on Hay River’s Beaver Crescent that was felt across the town on Saturday morning.
Those injured are not critically hurt, Town of Hay River deputy mayor Keith Dohey wrote in an afternoon statement. Beaver Crescent was briefly evacuated before residents were allowed to return.
The cause of the blast remains under investigation by the territory’s fire marshal. Glenn Smith, Hay River’s town manager, said authorities do not believe any criminality was involved.
Smith told Cabin Radio he could not confirm the cause but said crews were subsequently “suppressing a gas distribution line in the area of the explosion.”
Some homes on and near Beaver Crescent have damage to windows and cracked walls, Smith said.
A warming shelter remains in operation at the Hay River Community Centre.
Around 20 homes are located in the vicinity of Beaver Crescent, a riverside residential area surrounded by a strip of woodland.
The blast, at 10:20am on Saturday, was loud enough to shake houses throughout the town and blow out a number of windows.
A video uploaded to Facebook by Cory Walsh captured the sound of the explosion.
“Well that was a wake-up call,” Walsh wrote. “I thought something blew up downstairs.”
Another video shows a bright flash in the distance before a shockwave shakes a house and yard, sending pets into a frantic scramble.
Fire crews quickly extinguished a fire caused at the property as a result of the blast.
Photos from the scene show the remains of what appears to have once been a garage or similar outbuilding.
Smith said a detached structure at the property had sustained “a lot of damage” but he had no firm information regarding the exact location in which the blast had started.
Tracey Schumann, who lives across a nearby ravine from Beaver Crescent, was among the first to reach the scene. He said he felt an explosion that “just-about shook my house off the foundations” and soon saw a “big, black mushroom cloud of smoke going up in the air.”
Schumann, who helped one person out of a house on the property, said the building next to the house had been “vaporized.”
“Propane and power distribution services to the affected property have been disconnected. Utility providers have completed an initial hazard assessment of the area and found no major risks,” Dohey wrote in his Saturday afternoon statement.
“Residents are advised to take caution as town crews and property owners clean up debris in the areas.
“Damages occurred to several homes in the area and include broken windows. Residents and local contractors have started emergency repairs to properties. Impacted residents are advised to contact and work through their insurance company.”