Vehicle slams into house causing explosion in London, Ont., police say

Investigators said the fire is still active and has spread to several houses

Dozens of people have been displaced from their homes in southwestern Ontario as firefighters continue to battle a growing blaze following a major house explosion Wednesday night.

A vehicle slammed into a home in London, Ont., just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, setting off the blast, and a woman has since been charged with impaired driving, police said.

Investigators believe the vehicle hit a gas line.

Police confirmed Thursday morning that no one was in the home at the time of the crash, adding the building was completely destroyed in the explosion.

Seven people — including four firefighters and two police officers — were taken to hospital. One firefighter is in serious condition and the other people received minor injuries.

Daniella Alexandra Leis, 23, of Kitchener, Ont., was arrested and charged shortly after the incident, according to police.

Investigators said the fire is still active and has spread to several houses.

A spokeswoman for the city said about seven homes were “severely impacted” by the fire and about 100 residences have been evacuated.

London officials said in a statement that some of those displaced by the incident have been put up in hotels.

Investigators expect to be on scene for several days.

Keara-Lynn Douglas said she was watching TV around 11 p.m. when she felt her house shake.

She went outside and saw an orange glow a few blocks away and she drove to where the explosion occurred. As she drove up to the scene, Douglas said she saw large flames engulfing a few homes.

“One of the homes was completely gone,” she said. “There was just debris everywhere.”

She said a small group of people gathered and first responders arrived at the scene. “It brought everybody to tears. It was insane,” she said.

City councillor Jesse Helmer said he lives near the blast and initially thought a tree fell on his house.

“Then I went outside and saw a huge plume of smoke and fire going up into the sky,” he said.

Helmer said a community centre was immediately opened for displaced residents and other residents dropped off food and water.

“It’s important that we get together as a community,” said Helmer. “Everyone is really coming together to put up some donations and things that people will need because some of these people have lost everything.”

The Canadian Press

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