More than 20 people injured in explosion at CFB Comox

·2 min read
Emergency crews respond to an explosion at CFB Comox, also known as 19 Wing, on northeast Vancouver Island on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. The blast injured 16 military members and six civilians whose identities are not being released . (Dean Stoltz/CHEK News - image credit)
Emergency crews respond to an explosion at CFB Comox, also known as 19 Wing, on northeast Vancouver Island on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. The blast injured 16 military members and six civilians whose identities are not being released . (Dean Stoltz/CHEK News - image credit)

The number of people reported hurt after an explosion on a Vancouver Island military base Thursday has more than doubled, according to a statement from the Department of National Defence.

The blast happened around 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, at a barracks building that was undergoing renovations but being used for accommodations at Canadian Forces Base Comox, also known as 19 Wing Comox.

Military officials said Thursday several people suffered injuries as a result of the incident but, at the time, did not confirm exact numbers.

In a statement to CBC, B.C. Emergency Health Services, which manages the British Columbia Ambulance Service, said six patients were treated at the military base medical unit, three were taken to hospital in stable condition and one person was airlifted off the base in serious condition.

The Defence Department now says 22 people, including 16 members of the military and six civilians, were treated for injuries.

The military says 21 of those people were treated and released and one remains in hospital receiving care and their identities will not be released.

An Urban Search and Rescue team from Esquimalt has been searching the site using acoustic and infrared sensors and the Defence Department says all military members, civilians and contractors known to have been on site have been accounted for.

The building site remains an active emergency scene with federal, provincial and military investigations all beginning Friday but extensive damage to the building has made clearing it a challenge.

Colonel Bryn Elliott, Wing Commander 19 Wing Comox, said in a statement the initial explosion was significant and the risk of further explosions was initally a factor for some time.

He offered his gratitude to all personnel who responded to the scene Thursday morning.

Capt. Brad Little was working in his office across the street from the barracks building when the blast happened and it was strong enough to cave in part of the office building's ceiling.

He says the blast occurred some distance from where the base's aircraft are situated and there was no damage to aircraft or air field facilities.

According to the Defence Department, early information points to a contractor hitting a gas line with an excavator while working on a perimeter drain.

WorksafeBC and Fortis B.C. will also be part of the investigation into the cause of the incident.

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