A woman was killed after an explosion ripped through a home on Sprucedale Crescent in Kitchener on Wednesday morning.
A spokesperson for Ornge air ambulance also confirmed that a man was flown to Hamilton General with critical injuries.
Neighbours identified the man injured in the explosion as Udo Haan, while also saying that his wife, Edra, was killed in the explosion. Authorities have not confirmed the identities of the victims.
Kitchener Fire Chief Jon Rehill said that they were called to the scene at 8:10 a.m. for reports of an explosion and immediately set to work on evacuating the homes. Within 10 minutes, the 32 firefighters that were at the scene had turned their attention to the fires.
In an afternoon update, Rehill said they were still working to put out the fire although he noted that the utilities had been secured.
“Utilities in this neighbourhood have been secured and there is no threat to the neighbouring residences,” Rehill said.
Rehill said the house where the explosion occurred has been destroyed.
“Principal house is completely levelled and there is significant damage to the two houses on either side,” he said.
He could not provide an exact dollar figure for the destruction but the fire chief said it was in seven figures.
“I don’t have a total thus far but we’re into the millions, there’s no question about it,” Rehill said Wednesday afternoon.
Nearby homes have been evacuated and residents could be forced to spend up to several days away from their homes.
“Approximately 16 houses will need to be evacuated for up to three days as the investigation continues to ensure the safety of these residents,” Rehill explained. He said that it was a precautionary measure and that it did not appear as if the other homes were damaged.
Waterloo deputy police chief Kevin Chalk said the scene is currently being deemed a death investigation.
WATCH: Firefighters respond to fatal Kitchener house explosion
“We haven’t been able to get to the scene for obvious reasons until it’s safe to do so and the coroner has yet to arrive on scene,” he explained.
“We’re somewhat hampered by the fact that we can’t get to the scene to do an investigation other than peripheral at this point.”
A man who was visiting family nearby described seeing a “fireball” shortly after the explosion.
“We were sitting in brother’s family room at about 10 after eight when suddenly we could feel the compression from the explosion and we looked out he back just in time to see this explosion in the sky and there were pieces of lumber (and) siding raining down,” the man said. “Then the flames suddenly caught and within five minutes it was fully engulfed.”
Earlier reports suggested that there may have been 10 people in the house at the time of the explosion but Chalk said that was “false.”
“To our knowledge at this point, everyone is accounted for that we are aware of but we can’t confirm that there isn’t anyone else in the dwelling,” he explained.
He said the victim and the injured man were found in the backyard.
“They could have been outside or blown outside,” Chalk said Wednesday afternoon.
WATCH: ‘The house next door was flattened’: neighbour reacts to Kitchener house explosion
Rahill said that they are unsure of what caused the fire yet as it is still “an active situation.”
Rahill said he has been with the fire service for nearly three decades and that explosions like this are rare.
“I’ve been in the fire service now for going on my 28th year, this is my third significant explosion,” he said “I’ve been the chief here for three and a half years and this is the first one.
“These significant explosions occur periodically in a firefighter’s career, unfortunately.”
Waterloo police are asking residents in the area to remain indoors due to the heavy volume of smoke in the area.
WATCH: Neighbour saw ‘fireball in the sky’ after Kitchener explosion
They are also requesting that people avoid the scene, which is located in the area of Highland Road West and Westheights Drive.
*With files from Global News’ Mark Carcasole.
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