Take a look inside one of the homes damaged by the Orléans explosion

Hanin Al Hajj Hasan shows inspector Mike Avelar where cracks appeared in her house after the explosion earlier this month. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)
Hanin Al Hajj Hasan shows inspector Mike Avelar where cracks appeared in her house after the explosion earlier this month. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)

When Hanin Al Hajj Hasan hears the news, she and her family breathe a sigh of relief.

Al Hajj Hasan's home was one of several damaged by a massive explosion Feb. 13 in the east Ottawa suburb of Orléans, one that levelled four houses under construction and sent six people to hospital.

Yesterday, certified home inspector Mike Avelar came by — on the invitation from CBC — to take a look at the damage.

Avelar admitted he was expecting the worst. And while certain features of the home were in rough shape, from a window being blown out to cracks almost everywhere, he ultimately concluded the foundation remains solid.

"I'm actually very happy to say that I did not find any evidence of significant structural movements," he told Al Hajj Hasan.

"Thank God," she replied. "Obviously that's something that we were scared of, so knowing that there's no structural damage in the house gives us a little bit of relief as a family."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

Damage mostly cosmetic

Al Hajj Hasan's house has cracks everywhere: on the walls, on the ceiling, on baseboards and pillars, inside closets, even on the fireplace.

The banister on the main stairs is loose, and floors now squeak.

Travel into the kitchen and there are even more cracks where the counter meets the wall. Cupboards have shifted, and some bend if you push against them.

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

Those are all things that can easily happen when a house shakes as hard as this one did, explained Avelar.

Since the home was built 15 years ago, things like caulking and trim may have dried out and therefore cracked easier under the pressure, he said.

Luckily, the damage shouldn't cost too much to fix, Avelar said, although he couldn't give an exact estimate.

The family should watch out for water damage, he said, as it's hard to fully assess the foundation with a finished basement and a blanket of snow on the ground outside.

"[The home] is quite a bit away from the explosion ... the homes in front of it actually protected this home slightly," Avelar said, noting that others on the block might not be so lucky.

"Depending on where they were situated to the blast, there could be more significant damage to those homes that are closer."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC
Natalia Goodwin/CBC

Arrest brings little relief

Al Hajj Hasan said her family doesn't feel safe anymore and are thinking of selling, so the cosmetic fixes will have to be looked at.

While the inspection gave her piece of mind about the house, Al Hajj Hasan said it's far from closure.

"I still have many questions that are going through my thoughts. Why did this happen? Who did this? What could be the reason for something like this in in a very residential and family area?"

On Thursday, Ottawa police laid 12 charges against 35-year-old Kody Crosby in relation to the explosion, including arson and criminal negligence.

Al Hajj Hasan said news of Crosby's arrest brought little relief — and only more questions.

"I can imagine everyone is thinking the same way," she said. "Everyone has the same questions and I don't think we'll feel completely content until we know why this happened."