Evacuation zone in Wheatley, Ont. to be reduced following August 2021 explosion

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent announced that the evacuation zone imposed following an August 2021 explosion in Wheatley can be reduced in size.

According to officials, restaging of fencing to the new evacuation zone will begin on Wednesday and will start in the northwest corner of the evacuation zone and move clockwise.

Investigation and remediation work will continue in the newer smaller evacuation zone.

The estimated completion time of the new evacuation zone is expected to take one to two days.

Officials say residents and businesses that will now have access to their properties outside the evacuation zone should reach out to their insurance companies to discuss next steps, and add that reactivation of utilities must occur before occupancy.

A satellite image of the previous and new evacuation zone in Wheatley, Ont. following an August 2021 explosion. (Source: Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Municipal case managers will be reaching out to evacuated households to provide guidance and discuss their individual case.

For owners and properties that remain inside the evacuation zone, the municipality may allow temporary access to those who want it, but only for properties that are deemed safe to enter and when on-site conditions allow it.

The Provincial Wheatley Resident Assistance Program will continue to provide housing assistance to households that remain evacuated.

A large explosion on August 26, 2021 tore through the town near Talbot Street East and Elm Street in and sent three people to hospital.

In the months leading up to the explosion, a state of emergency and evacuation order had been put in place following concerns of a hydrogen sulphide gas leak.

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