No injuries were reported after an improvised explosive device placed on a vehicle in the parking lot of a residential building in Barrie exploded overnight, police say.

According to the Barrie Police Service, emergency crews were called to the parking lot of a low-rise residential building on Anne Street at around 3 a.m. after receiving multiple 911 calls about an explosion.

“Upon arrival, Barrie Fire and Emergency Services, along with Barrie police personnel, located a vehicle that had in fact exploded, partially, and we also located an improvised explosive device nearby,” police spokesperson Peter Leon told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

“As a result of what was located, an immediate evacuation of the residence was required.”

Several nearby roads were closed and residents of the apartment building were removed from the area using local transit buses.

Police presence on Anne Street North

Other residents of the surrounding neighbourhood were told to shelter in place and the movement of traffic in and out of the area was restricted.

“As of around 8:30 this morning, the Barrie police explosive disposal unit did attend the scene and was able to safely and remotely detonate an improvised explosive device that was located a short distance away from the vehicle,” Leon continued, adding that the device was found about 10 to 12 feet away.

“We believe at this point that there was an explosive device placed upon the motor vehicle parked in the parking lot and that a portion of that device did not explode at the time, became dislodged, and that was the device that was remotely imploded by our explosive disposal unit.”

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police Service’s K9 unit were called in to ensure that no other explosive devices were in the area.


'This could have been a disastrous outcome'

Fortunately, Leon said, no members of the public or first-responders were injured as a result of the incident.

“We have no less than five high-rise buildings, a retirement home, and a neighbourhood community in close proximity,” Leon said. “Certainly this could have been a disastrous outcome.”

Members of the police service’s criminal investigations unit, with the assistance of the OPP, will be leading the investigation going forward, Leon confirmed.

“Our investigation is very much in the early stages although a number of hours have passed,” Leon said.

“They will be canvassing the area to see if there is any video that is available.”

He said police will provide additional information when it becomes available.

When asked about the level of damage caused by the initial explosion, Leon said it was “minimal” compared to what one might expect from an improvised explosive device.

“The area in question where it was placed was adjacent to the gas tank,” he said.

“Certainly a combination of calamity could have resulted in a loss of life or significant structural damage.”

He noted that the parking lot where the explosion occurred is just north of the southbound lanes of Highway 400.

“We could have had significant damage suffered to infrastructure here within in our community not to mention anyone travelling down Highway 400,” he added.