Blast, fire devastate Barrie core
December 08, 2007
The Canadian Press - BARRIE
This looks more like a war zone than downtown Barrie, but this was the scene yesterday at Bayfield and Dunlop streets after an explosion and fire that displaced as many as 50 people.
An explosion and fire reduced a historic downtown corner in Barrie and its buildings to rubble yesterday.
The blast, at the Royal Thai Cuisine restaurant, resulted in a blaze that left only piles of smoking bricks and timber.
"It just shook. It felt like an earthquake,'' said Matt Gilbert, who lives next to the building and was sleeping when he heard what he described as "a very loud boom.''
"We ran out and they wouldn't let us back in,'' said Gilbert.
"It blew the front door (of the restaurant) right out onto the street. There were chairs out on the street and everything. This is just insane.''
Vanly Keov, owner of Royal Thai Cuisine, said his staff left the restaurant just after 10 p.m. Thursday night. The blast took place between 11 and 11:30 p.m., firefighters said.
"I feel very bad. I have no idea what I am going to do,'' said Keov, 44.
"The most important thing is nobody was hurt.''
Keov said he has insurance for his business, and he had been in touch with the company yesterday morning. The restaurant, which has been downtown since the late 1980s, employed six people on a full-time basis and three part-timers. The building itself dated back to 1877.
Firefighters and equipment from Innisfil and New Tecumseth, as well as the townships of Essa, Springwater and Oro-Medonte, helped both at the fire scene and to cover the city in case of another emergency.
City police Sgt. Dave Goodbrand said a total of eight apartments above the stores, with between 12 and 20 occupants, were evacuated. Officials said up to 50 people from the affected buildings and nearby structures may have been displaced.
There was no indication of foul play, he said.