Many Old East residents displaced by explosion allowed to return home

Aerial photo of the damage caused by an explosion in Old East London. Photo provided by London police.

More than 100 homes were evacuated after an explosion rocked the city’s Old East Village, but the majority of displaced residents will soon be allowed to return.

The City of London said in a statement that all but 12 homes have been cleared for residents to return sometime Thursday evening. Hydro and water have been restored to all homes, with the exception of the homes that have not been cleared. All homes on Woodman will be without gas until Friday morning.

The remaining 12 homes were the most significantly impacted after a vehicle crashed into a home on Woodman Avenue, severing a gas line, and causing a massive explosion late Wednesday evening. The remaining homes include 10 on Woodman Avenue and two on Charlotte Street.

Evacuees were housed at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre on Elizabeth Street before being moved to hotels or making alternative arrangements. The city said it would continue to provide support and accommodation for residents that are unable to return to their homes.

Police are expected to remain at the scene on Woodman Avenue while the London Fire Department and the Office of the Fire Marshal continue to investigate the incident. All other residents outside of the area are being asked to avoid the area.

Daniella Alexandra Leis, 23, of Kitchener has been charged with four counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm and one count of impaired operation of a vehicle exceeding blood alcohol concentration in connection with the crash that caused the explosion.

Four firefighters, two police officers, and one civilian were taken to hospital following the blast. One firefighter remained in hospital Thursday morning and was listed in serious, but stable condition. The other six people who were hurt have been treated and released from hospital.

-With files from Miranda Chant