UPDATE: GoFundMe launched to support residents and businesses in Wheatley following blast

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)

Over the past two days, a GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $20,000 to help residents and business owners impacted by last week’s explosion in downtown Wheatley.

The campaign was set up by Lauren Anderson and started with a goal of $20,000. That goal was reached, and quickly surpassed, by late Monday morning.

A hydrogen sulphide leak is behind the blast Thursday afternoon that levelled The Pogue Irish Pub and damaged many other buildings on Erie Street at Talbot Road East.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent wants the province to find the source and is working with representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Solicitor General’s office.

“The result [of the explosion] has completely shut down all businesses in our town’s core, and multiple families have been evacuated,” read the campaign. “While it is understood that Municipal, Provincial, and Federal governments have a responsibility to assist, we as a community have always come together in a time of need.”

Anderson wrote the funds would help those families that have been displaced and businesses that have shut down.

Thursday’s blast came after two previous evacuation orders in June and July and came just as officials evacuating the area for the third time.

The municipality said over the weekend 20 people were hurt in the blast, and one municipal worker remained in the hospital.

Investigators from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal remain on the scene.

Meanwhile, the reception centre at Wheatley Arena remains open for residents affected by the explosion who are looking for information regarding food, accommodation, and other emergency needs.

The centre will stay open for as long as there is demand for its services.

As of Monday, the municipality has placed 15 households consisting of 33 individuals in local hotels and motels and has provided some form of assistance to more than 85 households.

According to a municipal media release, many of the households displaced were able to find accommodations on their own.