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'It sounded like an explosion,' Historic building collapses on Main Street in Penetanguishene, Ont.

A historic apartment building on Main Street in Penetanguishene is in ruins, and more than a dozen people are without a place to call home.

According to officials, the building collapsed around 3 a.m. Thursday.

"It sounded like an explosion," said neighbour Vincent Pyman.

"On arrival, Penetanguishene fire crews found the walls on two sides of 78 Main Street had collapsed. Several people were unaccounted for," said Fire Chief Richard Renaud.

Renaud said fire crews began immediately searching for occupants and assessing the structure for stability.

A rapid intervention team from Midland's fire department and an Urban Search and Rescue team from Barrie Fire Service responded.

"I'm amazed an apartment building can just fall over on Main Street," said Penetanguishene resident Tyler Bugg, who drove past the building hours after the collapse.

One of the building's residents reportedly rolled out of his second-storey bedroom onto the sidewalk as the structure gave way.

"He ended up on top of the rubble. He was saying he was fine, just a little bump on the elbow," Pyman said.

Apartment building collapsed on Main Street in Penetanguishene, Thurs., Sept. 7, 2023 (Photo: Michael Chorney/At the Scene Photography)

Officials later confirmed everyone was safe and no one required hospitalization.

Fourteen people have been displaced. The Town said it has reached out to the County for help with housing.

Still, neighbours are grateful the situation didn't turn more tragic.

"I'm glad it happened at three in the morning because any passerby on the street here would have instantly been killed if it was a busy afternoon. This is Main Street," Pyman said.

Renaud said the cause of this collapse has not been determined.

"From a building perspective and a regulatory perspective, we'll continue to do additional due diligence with surrounding buildings," noted Penetanguishene CAO Jeff Lees.

"Our emergency services, and specifically for this event, our volunteer firefighters acted in a quick manner to protect life and property and keep our community safe," said Mayor Doug Rawson.

"Our thoughts are with the residents and owner affected by this emergency. On behalf of our community and council, we want to express our thoughts to everyone and recognize the valiant work of our emergency crews," Rawson concluded.

With files from CTV's Cheryl Browne Top Stories

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