Wheatley update September 1

Media Release

September 1, 2021

Removal of debris from Wheatley explosion begins

The process of removing rubble from the area of last Thursday’s Wheatley explosion began Tuesday and is expected to take several days.

Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case said this morning that crews under the direction of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office and Chatham-Kent Fire Services are removing layers of debris from the area, accompanied by provincial hazmat team members with gas monitoring equipment.

Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said no timetable has been established to allow residents in the evacuation zone or business owners to return to the scene. “This is still an emergency situation and although there has been no gas detected at the periphery of the evacuation zone, we don’t believe it is prudent to adjust the size of the area.”

Shropshire said the evacuation zone, a two-block area around the explosion at 15 Erie Street North, could be reduced once officials believe it is safe. 

Once debris is removed from the site, Shropshire said it is expected that the province will allocated resources to identify the source of the hydrogen sulphide leak and provide recommendations for remediation. “The province is in the process of securing the technical expertise needed to fulfill its legislated responsibility in this area,” he said.

The municipality continues to staff the Wheatley Arena from 8:30 to 4:30 daily. Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956. Evacuees requiring after hours support (ie. food, shelter, clothing) please contact case management at 519-354-6628. 

More than 120 households have sought out aid and the municipality is currently providing housing to 10 households consisting of 27 people.

The municipality is helping coordinate efforts of community groups providing support. Chatham-Kent Victim Services will be on site at the Tilbury Library from 12 to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday for anyone seeking assistance.

Families with students attending LKDSB or SCCDSB schools who have been evacuated or who have students that would normally walk through the evacuation zone on their path to Wheatley Area Public School should reach out to CLASS to discuss student transportation service options as soon as possible at (877) 330-4287 or https://cklass.ca/contact-student-transportation/.

Parents of Essex County students should contact their school if they have questions concerning transportation.

Wheatley residents who want to be placed on an email subscription service can do so by calling 3-1-1 or 519-360-1998 during regular business hours or by emailing ck311@chatham-kent.ca with contact information (name, phone number, address, email address).

Wheatley mail is currently being transferred to the Leamington Post Office and residents can visit the Leamington Post Office until further notice.  For more information please call Canada Post Customer Service at 1-800-267-1177.

The ATM at the Wheatley arena is now available to accessible to residents during regular hours.


Note: For those requesting photos, the site is still under the control of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office and we do not have access.

For further information contact:

Don Shropshire
Chief Administrative Officer
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998 x 3624

Media Contact:
Jim Blake
Communications Officer
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998 x 3624

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