By Charlotte Prong Parkhill, Kitchener Post staff
Randy Knipping was asleep when he felt, rather than heard, the explosion.
He lives just five doors down from the Activa Avenue house that collapsed in a ball of flame late Sunday night.
“The house shook pretty good,” Knipping said Monday morning.
“My son came running in – it knocked stuff off his walls.”
When they got outside, they could see that their neighbour’s house was in flames, the garage door twisted and blown across the road.
Knipping said the explosion and flames took the house down almost immediately.
“The centre was out of it, and it just dropped,” he said.
Tom Ruggle, chief fire prevention officer for the Kitchener Fire Department, said the emergency call came in at about 11:45 p.m. and when firefighters arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flame, and the house next door was starting to burn.
All four people in the house got out. Three people were treated and released from hospital, while a fourth remains in hospital.
Knipping said he saw a mother and two children rescued and put into a car, while the father was removed from near the back of the house on a stretcher.
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office and the Technical Standards Safety Authority are looking into the cause and circumstance of the explosion.
Ruggle said the gas was shut off to all neighbouring homes, and some people were asked to evacuate. Everyone has since returned to their homes and gas service has been restored.
“The street will be partially blocked off until the investigation is complete,” Ruggle said.
One neighbour who came to check out the still-smoking wreckage said she was awake when she heard the explosion. “It felt like a door being slammed,” said Paisley Thornton.
But she also thought she could smell gas inside her nearby Peach Blossom home.
Knipping doesn’t know his neigbhours, but characterized them as hard workers.
“That woman laid their interlocking brick driveway herself,” he said. “They were just out there Sunday afternoon polishing their cars.”