EDMONTON - At least three people are dead and an unknown number injured after a house exploded in a northeast Edmonton neighbourhood on Sunday.
Fire officials are working to figure out what caused the blast which rocked the residential area, damaging several neighbouring homes.
Eyewitness reports say a debris field covers at least two to three blocks in the area around the explosion.
The house at the centre of the blast has been levelled leaving only a charred basement behind.
Robert D'Aoust, the district fire chief, says crews were still searching for other potential victims.
Fire crews were investigating whether the explosion may have been caused by a gas leak.
Residents of 15 homes were told to leave their damaged houses and it was unclear when they may be allowed back into the area.
''The fire is under control,'' said D'Aoust.
Flames were rekindled in one of the damaged homes when the winds picked up, he said.
''The house being open, it did start the fire going up into one of the damaged houses,'' he said.
The flames were quickly brought under control.
Rescue crews were sorting through the destruction on Sunday afternoon while a hazardous materials team was called in to sweep the area. No unnatural chemicals were found.
Area resident Arturo Acorda was in his home, four houses away from the epicentre, when the explosion occurred.
''There was a massive amount of shock,'' said Acorda. ''Everything was in slow motion, and fast in a weird way. I saw everything go off the wall, two inches away and then drop.''
Acorda said he ran outside to find his mother in distress.
''She was hysterical, and she wanted to inside the house. I told her to stay outside, don't go back in,'' he said. ''I told her to sit, then found out she was injured.''
Acorda's mother was taken to hospital where she is recovering.
Acorda said his house is now in disarray.
''Stuff is everywhere,'' he said. ''Broken glass, TV broken. I don't think there's even power working. It's a complete mess.'' (CHED)