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Man charged with criminal negligence, arson in Ottawa explosion

A 35-year-old Ottawa man is facing a dozen charges in relation to an explosion in Orléans that injured 12 people last month.

Kody Troy Crosby has been charged with four counts each of criminal neglience causing bodily harm and arson causing bodily harm, Ottawa police said Thursday.

Crosby is also charged with arson with disregard for human life and arson causing property damage. He is also charged with two counts of breaking and entering.

The explosion on Feb. 13 destroyed four homes that were under construction and damaged many more in a wide radius. Two people were rescued from the rubble with serious injuries and several others were hospitalized, including children.

Residents of nearly 30 households were displaced for several days. Eighteen families were allowed back in their homes and found damage both inside and outside their houses. Ten other families remained displaced as of last week.

Previous charges for construction site break-ins

Crosby was arrested on Wednesday and due to appear in court Thursday morning, police said.

In 2019, a man with Crosby's name and age was charged after Ottawa construction sites across the city were broken into over a two-and-a-half-month period.

He faced 19 charges including breaking and entering, possessing break-and-enter instruments and mischief, police said at the time.

In 2014, he was arrested and charged after break-ins at more than a dozen homes in south Ottawa over a month-long period.

In that case, police said 18 businesses or homes in the Bank Street area were hit and nine vehicles were stolen. The vehicles were later recovered.

The suspect mostly targeted new homes or homes under construction, police said.

Crosby was charged with 18 counts of breaking and entering and eight counts of theft of a motor vehicle.

Police have not yet confirmed that the man charged in those incidents is the same man charged in the Orléans explosion, but the name and age match.

Minto president 'relieved'

The president of Minto, the builder of the subdivision where the explosion happened, said in a statement Thursday the company is relieved that an arrest has been made.

"We are relieved that the Ottawa Police Arson Unit has made an arrest and laid charges in connection with the explosion at our Avalon Vista community," Brent Strachan said in a statement. "We are grateful to the authorities for their steadfast support throughout this investigation and our thoughts continue to be with those who were injured.

"Our focus remains on the construction of our community so residents can move into their new homes as soon as possible."

Last week, police announced the arson unit was leading the investigation into the blast because "the circumstances surrounding the explosion were deemed criminal."

Earlier this week, Ottawa's police chief said securing the scene has been difficult.

"Keeping the scene secure for the time that we have has been a significant issue; it's a large scene," Eric Stubbs said on Monday. "It is developing very quickly. Unfortunately, I can't talk much about the circumstances surrounding it or why we think it's criminal but there are a lot of resources being dedicated to ensure we get to the bottom of this."

Stubbs said investigators are working with the Ontario Fire Marshal, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), and Minto.

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