Nov. 19, 2:14 p.m. Article updated to reflect an increase in injury numbers (from 10 total to 22 total), as confirmed by 19 Wing Friday (Nov. 19) afternoon
One person is in serious condition and 21 others have been treated by paramedics following a natural gas line explosion at CFB Comox.
Shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, first responders – both military and civilian – were dispatched to the scene for a building that partially collapsed on base.
Known as Building 25, the facility housed accommodations and was currently under renovation, according to Lt.-Col. Mike Julliet.
“At approximately 9 o’clock today, an explosion happened at one of our accommodations buildings, currently under renovation. Our focus right now is assisting our injured personnel,” he noted.
“The building that was under renovation was heavily damaged and the cause has still not been confirmed. We will have more info on that after we attend to our personnel. No aircraft or airfield facilities are involved. Air operations are not affected, whatsoever.”
According to BC Emergency Health Services, several ambulances were dispatched to the scene, including a critical care team by air ambulance.
Ten patients have been cared for by paramedics; six were treated at the military base medical unit. Three patients were transported to hospital in stable condition and one patient in serious condition was flown with the BCEHS critical care paramedic team in a Cormorant helicopter by 442 Squadron to hospital.
British Columbia’s public safety minister, Mike Farnworth, told a news conference gas supplier FortisBC was also on scene at the base.
Brenda Cardinal was at the fitness centre across the street when the “huge explosion” explosion occurred.
“It actually shook the treadmill,” she said. “We all stopped and said ‘what was that?’ And then we all came out because we knew it wasn’t this building – we knew it was the base, for sure. Then of course it came over the loudspeaker what was going on and it just said Building 25. That’s the barracks.
“Hopefully everybody is OK… the fire department and military police were… really quick to get on site and everybody was evacuating.”
Comox Mayor Russ Arnott took to social media to reach out to his constituents.
“As many are now aware there was an explosion this morning at 19 Wing,” he posted on his @MayorRussArnott Facebook page. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our Defence community today. The Town of Comox has a mutual aid agreement with (19) Wing and are currently on scene offering assistance.
“The Town will continue to offer any assistance needed to ensure the well-being of all involved.”
– With files from the Canadian Press