Wheatley explosion probe moving forward

An explosion in downtown Wheatley brings a building down to rubble and severely damages surrounding structures. (Photo credit: Kathryn Parent, Photography by Phos³ via Twitter)

The provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has committed to taking the lead in investigating the source of a gas explosion that took place in downtown Wheatley on August 26, 2021.

The municipality of Chatham-Kent has signed an agreement with the ministry outlining its commitment to identify the source of the hydrogen sulphide gas believed to have caused the blast and to recommend ways to prevent future gas leaks.

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said the municipality will be meeting with the province and its experts to provide a timeline for residents as soon as possible.

“We have been preparing the site for further investigation while focusing on public safety,” said Shropshire. “The safety of our residents remains key for our first responders and the province will be taking the lead on its portion of the work.”

Mayor Darrin Canniff is calling on the province to expedite the investigation and to help the residents and businesses involved.

“We are encouraging the province to expedite the investigation process and to determine what can be done financially to help the residents and businesses that have been affected,” the mayor said. “I’m confident the premier and cabinet are giving the matter strong consideration.”

Municipal outreach services for Wheatley residents have relocated to the Wheatley Village Resource Centre and Food Bank at 108 Talbot Street East. Case managers will be on-site to assist evacuees with housing, food, and other support services. This service will operate Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the week of September 20 to September 24, 2021.

Evacuees may also call 519-351-8573 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and ask to speak with a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager for assistance with housing, food, and other support services.

Residents requiring emergency housing outside of weekday office hours may call the Homeless Response Line at (519) 354-6628.

Residents requiring general information should call (519) 360-1998 or 3-1-1 Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To subscribe to email updates residents can email ck311@chatham-kent.ca.

The Wheatley Recovery Group has also launched the Wheatley BIA Disaster Relief Fund and applications can be found here.

“Being a member of the Wheatley Recovery Group and the partnership with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has helped our community because we have been able to identify needs, collect and distribute goods, and connect people who don’t know where to turn,” said the Treasurer of the Wheatley BIA and member of the Wheatley Recovery Group Kim Little.