July 7th, 2020

House-shaking explosion heard before three-house fire in Crescent Heights

By Tim Kalinowski on July 19, 2017.

NEWS PHOTO TIM KALINOWSKI Medicine Hat fire crews battled a three house fire on Hudson Way in Crescent Heights Wednesday morning. Witnesses report hearing an explosion just before the fire broke out.

UPDATE: Emergency officials have discovered human remains in a house rocked by an explosion Wednesday morning in Crescent Heights. Read the update here

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tkalinowski@medicinehatnews.com @MHNTimKal

Medicine Hat firefighters responded to a three-house fire at about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday in Crescent Heights. When crews arrived at the location of the fire on Hudson Way N.E., one house was already fully engulfed and two others were on fire.

It took fire crews about two hours to bring the blaze under control. All three homes were seriously damaged in the blaze.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but it started in the middle house and was preceded by a loud explosion, confirms fire chief Brian Stauth.

Neighbour Heather Tremblay, who lives about a half block away, said the explosion was powerful enough to rattle her house.

“I was just in my backyard and I just heard a huge explosion,” she said. “It sounded like a bomb going off. It shook me. It shook the house. It shook the whole neighbourhood … About five minutes later I heard sirens, so I came around the front and that’s when I saw the whole house engulfed. I saw the flames coming out from the roof.”

Stauth said it will likely take several days to determine the cause of the explosion which led to the blaze. The investigation is complicated by the fact the home where the explosion took place has lost some of its structural integrity due to the damage sustained in the fire.

“We definitely need to get in there to not only do our investigation, but we haven’t been able to search that property for victims yet,” Stauth said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s going to be a little bit of time yet. We’re having it assessed for structural integrity. Before we get in there and start moving and digging, we want to make sure we have made it safe for our people working there.”

Stauth has no specific information on potential missing persons associated with any of the homes.

“I am not officially aware of anyone unaccounted for at this time,” he confirmed.

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