1 still missing after house explosion, fire in Scarborough on weekend, officials say

A house on Kitchener Road in Scarborough exploded and caught fire on Sunday. One person is still considered missing. Crews searched for a body on Monday. (Submitted by Brad Crozier - image credit)
A house on Kitchener Road in Scarborough exploded and caught fire on Sunday. One person is still considered missing. Crews searched for a body on Monday. (Submitted by Brad Crozier - image credit)

One person is still considered missing after a house exploded and burned in Scarborough on the weekend, according to Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM).

Toronto firefighters continued to sift through rubble of where the house stood on Kitchener Road, near Lawrence Avenue East and Morningside Road, to look for a body on Monday.

Fire crews had been called to the home at about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. The explosion and ensuing fire completed destroyed the house.

"We are going on the premise that there is somebody inside and that will be part of the investigation," Mariano Perini, OFM's operations manager of major incidents, told reporters near the scene on Monday.

Perini said officials from OFM along with Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Police Service and Enbridge Gas were at the address on Monday to make sure the scene was safe.

He said the OFM planned to bring in heavy equipment to deal with the debris as part of its investigation into the cause of the fire.

Sean Driscoll, spokesperson for the OFM, said in an email late Monday that investigators finished for the day at 5 p.m. but are expected to resume on Tuesday morning.

"Nobody has been found as of today," Driscoll said.

Toronto Fire Platoon Chief John Brunton said fire crews believe the body of the person who lived in the house may still be buried inside and finding the body is a slow and arduous process for firefighters.

"They'll be taking quite some time to thoroughly go through with a fine tooth comb," he said.

Neighbour heard boom before seeing flames

One neighbour reported hearing an explosion before the blast and seeing the man who lived there on fire before he disappeared.

Brad Crozier, who lives two doors away from the fire happened, said he was in his backyard with his girlfriend when he heard a blast.

"11:30 in the morning, all of a sudden, boom. And it just shook us," he said.

Crozier said he ran out to the street, noticed the house on fire and called 911. He said residents watched in horror as the person tried to escape.

"The man that lives there was inside, he came crawling out from the rubble, on top of the house, all on fire. And he just stood there, like this, swaying, not saying a word, or screaming," he said.

"Then he fell down, the flames grew higher and that's the last we saw of him."

By that time, the fire was intense and people were frantic and screaming, but they could not get close, Crozier said.

"You couldn't save him. He was on fire," he said.

The fire spread to a house next door and police began to evacuate the street, he said. Residents were allowed back at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, he added.

The missing occupant is believed to have lived alone.

Toronto police have confirmed that they had an interaction with a man, 62, at that address on Oct. 23 and that interaction was referred to Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

According to the SIU, police discharged a Taser and the man was injured as a result. He had to be taken to hospital. The SIU is investigating.

Toronto firefighters doused the fire with water as neighbours watched.
Toronto firefighters doused the fire with water as neighbours watched.

Toronto firefighters doused the fire with water as neighbours watched. (Submitted by Brad Crozier)