Barrie police suspect 'drug-related' activities sparked garage explosion
Investigators believe drug-related activities led to a garage explosion on Friday night in Barrie that sent 11 people to hospital.
Barrie Police are obtaining two search warrants to investigate 59 Collete Cres. after a garage explosion and fire. Police suspect butane canisters were being used for the extraction of marijuana resin when the explosion happened.
“We’re in the early stages of the investigation and we believe the explosion may have been cause by drug related activity in the garage,” says Const. Sarah Bamford at a Saturday afternoon news conference.
Investigators say the explosion erupted around 9 p.m. and caused a fire that engulfed both the garage and attached house.
Police say four people were in the garage, while eight children and two adults were in the house when the explosion happened. The children range in age between three-weeks-old and 15-years-old. In total, 11 people were taken to hospital, two of which are in critical condition. Six others have been released.
“We ran to the top of the stairs and we saw a door fly open and we saw a big wall of flames coming out and there was people crawling out of the garage, it was pretty brutal,” says Zachary Taylor Armstrong.
Armstrong and his girlfriend were in the house when the explosion took place. He says they had to get out of the house and it couldn't be through the front door.
“Me and Sadie ended up jumping up and running to my parents room and jumping out of the balcony. Scary, really scary.”
Lou Degrace lives across the road and says he's still in shock over what happened.
“I was sitting at the kitchen table with my son and we heard a couple of loud bangs and we both bolted up out of chairs and we went to the window and saw nothing but flames,” Degrace says.
Degrace’s son, Shane, didn’t hesitate to help – running across the street to aid his neighbours.
“There were kids in the street right in front of the house, so I moved them over to the far side of the road,” he says. “A woman came out of the house and she was all burnt and charred and I got her to the side of the road as well.”
Samantha Hoffman, public information officer for Barrie Fire and Emergency Services, says the property sustained around $400,000 in damage.
The children have been reunited with family, but police say children’s services have been notified.
Investigators say charges are pending and will be determined on the outcome of the search warrant.
The Ontario Fire Marshal is also investigating.