Wheatley residents could be out of their homes for 6 months, official says

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A firefighter stands in front of the rubble left by an explosion in the core of Wheatley on Aug. 26, 2021. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
A firefighter stands in front of the rubble left by an explosion in the core of Wheatley on Aug. 26, 2021. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

Wheatley residents who had to flee their homes following an explosion that destroyed two buildings in August may have to wait several months before they can return.

Don Shropshire, Chatham-Kent's chief administrative officer, said professionals are on site conducting testing to find the source of the hydrogen sulphide gas leak that is believed to be the cause of the blast.

But residents should anticipate being out of their homes for up to six months, he said.

"The indication from [the consultants, Golder and Associates,] is that the identification of the source, or the pathways for the H2S gas release, may take an extended period of time," he told reporters on Thursday.

Submitted by Kyle Mills
Submitted by Kyle Mills

Shropshire said the work may not take the full six months, but he wants those affected to know they may need a longer-term plan.

"It's a very different set of planning assumptions that we make if you think you're going to be out of your home for a few months," he said.

In addition to destroying two buildings, the explosion on Aug. 26 injured 20 people and displaced more than 100. There was previously no timeline for when residents and businesses in the downtown could possibly return.

The Ontario government has committed $2 million to help those affected.

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