St. Thomas resident charged in connection to Queen Street explosion

A 41 year old is facing multiple charges on Monday, including arson, after an explosion at an affordable housing complex left dozens of residents displaced.

According to the St. Thomas Police Service, an arrest has been made and charges have been laid following an explosion at 16 Queen St. in St. Thomas on Jan. 26.

As a result of the investigation, St. Thomas police have charged a 41-year-old St. Thomas resident with the following offences for their alleged involvement:

  • Two counts possession of a firearm or ammunition contrary to prohibition order
  • Arson – damage to property
  • Arson – disregard for human life

Dozens of residents were temporarily displaced from their homes after an explosion occurred just before 3 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the city’s newest affordable housing building, which opened less than six months ago.

Emergency crews are on scene of an apparent explosion on Queen Street in St. Thomas, Ont. on Jan. 26, 2024. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London) Resident Daniel Porter said the explosion was enough to lift his floor up a couple of inches.

“It sounded like a small hand grenade went off below us,” said Porter who lives on the fourth floor.

Speaking to CTV News London the day after the explosion, St. Thomas Chief Fire Inspector Kim Destun said the cause of the blast was “improper use of compressed gas.”

The explosion occurred in unit 203 of the building, and subsequently caused extensive damage to units 202, 203 and 204, as well as an adjacent closet.

As a result, the city issued an Order to Remedy Unsafe Building note and an Order to Prohibit Occupancy note, leading to the temporary displacement of 45 residents.

16 queen st in st thomas ont is bowed 1 6745160 1706557339506The side of the building at 16 Queen St. in St. Thomas, Ont. is bowed after an explosion in a second-floor unit. (Source: Brent Lale/CTV London)“In the unit that it occurred in, it had blown the walls kind of about five inches out and into impacted the apartments on either side of it as well,” said Destun. “It had blown doors in and moved structurally stuff around.”

The building must first be inspected, so it is unclear when residents will be allowed back into their homes.

“That’s 45 potential people that were homeless before that or are now thinking that they’re homeless again,” said resident David Thiessen. “It’s quite an effect, and a lot of people are emotionally upset.”

As of Monday afternoon, a search warrant had been requested and St. Thomas police remain on Queen Street as the Fire Marshal continues to investigate. 

— With files from CTV News London’s Brent Lale and Sean Irvine

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