Investigation begins at site of Whitby house explosion
A Whitby home that was the site of an explosion on Wednesday afternoon is shown.
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, November 8, 2018 9:29AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 8, 2018 10:27AM EST
Investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshal have begun picking through the debris at the site of a house explosion in Whitby that wounded three people on Wednesday afternoon.
The incident occurred at around 3:30 p.m. in the basement of a residence on Cedar Street, which is near Garden and Dundas streets.
Three males were in the basement at the time. One of those men was trying to chemically create oil from marijuana when the blast occurred, police say.
All three men were subsequently taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, where the accused was taken into custody.
In a news release issued on Thursday morning, Durham Regional Police identified the man facing charges as Jody Cormier.
Cormier is charged with arson with disregard for human life, criminal negligence and alter cannabis with an organic solvent.
The investigation into the explosion itself is continuing, though police say that they believe it was sparked by butane that was being used in the production of the cannabis oil.
Speaking with CP24 at the scene on Thursday morning, an investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal confirmed that the building is not structurally sound and will likely have to be demolished.
The official said that investigators are awaiting a warrant to enter the premises but are first searching through the field of debris for clues as to what caused the blast.
“As you can see the casement window from the basement is broken and we are looking for the fractures of glass to see how far they have been displaced. Then our engineers can do some calculations as to how much fuel would cause that type of displacement,” Andrea Gaynor said. “It could be many different types of fuels. It could be natural gas, it could be butane, it could be a lot of different of things so we have to go through the process.”
Gaynor said that investigators are confident that the blast had a force of less than 1,000 metres per second based on the “pushing and shoving” caused to the walls of the home.
She said that officials with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) did attend the property last night to ensure that no “migrant gases” seeped into the ground that would compromise the safety of surrounding homes.
Meanwhile, she said that animal services has been called to the scene to help relocate a pet pot-bellied pig named “Bentley” that lived in the backyard of the home and was seen roaming the property on Thursday morning.
The owner of the home, who was not home at the time of the blast, told CP24 on Thursday that she is looking for a place to keep the animal while she finds permanent housing.
“He needs a home. I am not sure where we are going to live so until we can figure that out I just want to make sure he is safe and won’t be eaten because he is family,” the woman said. “He is four and he is funny, he is happy, he runs around, he will cuddle with you. He is the sweetest pig ever.”
The suspect in the house explosion has been released from police custody on a promise to appear in court at a later date.