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 next door was also starting to burn.
All four people in the house got out. Three people were treated and released from hospital, while a fourth remained in hospital.
Knipping saw a neighbour rescue the mother from the wreckage of the house. Two children also left the home safely, 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.
Fire prevention officer Tom Ruggle said the gas was shut off to all neighbouring homes, and some people were asked to evacuate. By Monday afternoon, everyone had returned to their homes and gas service had been restored.
“There is a lot of speculation happening as to the cause of the explosion,” Ruggle said in a press release.
“The only thing we can say at this time is that the cause is not considered criminal or suspicious, and that the area surrounding the fire site is safe for residents.”
Investigators are continuing to comb through the debris piece by piece.
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.”