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Residents return home to significant damage following Orleans explosion

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Eighteen families displaced by Monday’s explosion in Orleans were able to see the full extent of damage to their homes after returning to the neighbourhood for the first time since the blast.

The front door to Tehir Khalid’s home is split near the lock.

There is damage to the garage door, in some places it’s buckled and bent. Both will need to be replaced while the parts of the roof, mainly hanging off it, will have to be repaired.

"Inside the major damage is to my staircase which goes up probably because of the shockwave or something. It’s just likely the moulding has been shifted or something," Khalid says. "Overall, structure-wise, the police told me and Minto told me it is safe. I was expecting more because of the nature of the blast.”

Khalid is among the households who received the 'all-clear' to return home on Wednesday night. The street, Shallow Pond Place in the east Ottawa neighbourhood, is only one block away from where the explosion occurred.

On Thursday, many residents on the street were meeting with insurance adjusters and inspecting the damage. Many of the homes had extensive visible damage to the exterior, including smashed windows, dented and broken doors and significant damage around the roof.

While some residents were allowed to return home, their neighbours on the other side of the street will likely have to wait much longer. Ten houses that back-on to the site of the explosion could be damaged beyond repair.

"The city’s building inspector said they were unsafe to go back inside," Coun. Catherine Kitts said Thursday. "Depending on the level of damage, we were able to facilitate emergency services going in to retrieve some items for displaced residents but depending on the amount of damage to the home not everybody was granted even that.”

Some of the houses where residents cannot return are missing exterior walls, garage doors are crumpled and lying on the ground, and many of the windows are shattered and blown out.

Excavation of the destroyed homes continues, as does the investigation led by the Ontario Fire Marshal to determine the cause of the blast, which early indications have pointed to a natural gas leak.

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