Investigators gone but still no answers in Sarnia apartment blast probe
Sarnia The Observer
 
Investigators have finished looking for evidence as to what may have caused the explosion that blew the patio doors off a ground-level Sarnia apartment and sent a 47-year-old man to hospital in critical condition.
 
But answers may not be available any time soon.
 
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office and Sarnia police have both wrapped up their on-site investigations and handed the heavily damaged unit near the front entrance to the seven-floor Finch Drive building back to its landlords, Skyline Living.

Const. Giovanni Sottosanti, a Sarnia police spokesperson, said officers went in with a warrant Tuesday.

“We retrieved evidence from the scene, and it’s going to be sent off to be analyzed,” he said Wednesday. “That’ll help us determine between what the fire marshal says and, with the evidence that we gather, where we proceed – or if we proceed – criminally.”

Some evidence will be sent to Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Sciences, Sottosanti said, but then it’s in the lab’s hands.

“I don’t have a timeline,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office said its investigation is still ongoing, although they’re no longer on site.

“Unfortunately, I cannot speculate on when this might be, so it is not possible to provide a timeline,” Sean Driscoll said via email. “As every incident and subsequent investigation is unique, fire investigators must take their time to provide a thorough investigation and some fires take longer to investigate than others.”

Local fire officials haven’t given a cause for the explosion or damage estimate.

No police or fire vehicles were on site Wednesday, and the emergency yellow tape and debris field, including a set of patio doors, were gone. Openings where the patio doors and a side window were have been boarded up.

Meanwhile, there was no update on the 47-year-old Sarnia man who was rushed to local hospital and transferred to London due to his injuries.A neighbour described him as being in a state of shock with charred clothes shortly after the blast.

“We don’t know if he’s improved or not,” Sottosanti said. “At this time, no changes that we know of.”

Police have not released the man’s name as no criminal charges have been laid.

More than 300 tenants were displaced for nearly 20 hours – about 35 took advantage of temporary housing offered by the city’s emergency management officials at nearby Lambton College – until an engineer determined the building’s structural integrity wasn’t compromised.

However, two units – the site of the blast and the one directly above – were still off-limits as of Wednesday. The lower unit is “destroyed,” Sottosanti said, while engineers need to inspect the ceiling to ensure there are no cracks in the cement prior to the second-floor unit being cleared.

“They are still displaced,” he said of the tenants.

It’s not known how many residents are still without a home, although fire officials have said four other people were in the lower unit at the time of the explosion. Ron Realesmith, the city’s emergency management co-ordinator, previously said finding temporary housing for tenants in those two units is between them and the landlord as the emergency is considered over.

Skyline Living, a Guelph-based company, has not responded to multiple requests for comment and a superintendent on site said she wasn’t permitted to speak to media.

A second building at the same location was unaffected by the explosion.

 

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