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Body found after apparent house explosion in Calgary, police investigating

CALGARY – Calgary police say a body has been recovered from the site of an apparent house explosion in the city’s southeast.

Sgt. Dwayne Lepchuk declined to say whose remains were found.

Fire department spokeswoman Carol Henke says fire and police investigators were able to enter the destroyed home late Sunday.

She says heavy equipment had to be brought in to slowly and carefully remove debris.

Police have taken over the investigation.

More than 25 people — some of them several blocks away from the house — called 911 to report hearing a loud bang at about 4:20 a.m., Calgary Fire Department spokeswoman Carol Henke said.

“One caller stated that they heard a loud bang and saw smoke and flames coming from a house across the street,” she said. “Another caller said they heard a bang and glass shattering, flames visible from the second floor of a single-family home.”

Firefighters arrived on scene to find the house fully engulfed in flames and the fire already starting to spread to neighbouring properties, she said. 

In addition to the home where the blast originated, one other home was badly damaged and “will not be re-occupied any time soon,” Henke said. Several others suffered less serious damage, including melted siding and blown-out windows.

By Sunday afternoon, Henke said the destroyed house was still not structurally safe enough for crews to get inside, and heavy equipment would be needed to deconstruct pieces of the home so that investigators could carefully enter.

“It’s just too dangerous to go inside, so at this point we don’t know if there are any injuries or worse,” she said.

Dale Frizzell, whose home backs onto the one that burned, said the owner, a single man, regularly goes to Thailand in the winter and is away right now.

But Frizzell said there’s a renter who also lived in the home, although he hadn’t seen that person for a week or so.

“My wife had mentioned the other day, ‘I haven’t seen him around’ … We don’t know if he was in there or not. We don’t know,” Frizzell said.

“We’re hoping he was somewhere else, not at home.”

Frizzell said family members, including his five grandchildren, were staying with him before going to the airport. When the sound of the apparent explosion woke them, he wasn’t sure what had happened.

“You know how sometimes planes drop ice? And I thought that first, right?” Frizzell said.

Windows on Frizzell’s home were cracked and siding was melted due to the heat of the fire. His family had to evacuate, and they all waited outside in his van until firefighters gave them the all-clear to return.

Henke said people were evacuated from five nearby homes, adding that by 8 a.m. residents from four of those houses were allowed to return.