A total of 22 people – including 16 military personnel – were injured in Thursday’s (Nov.18) explosion of a building at CFB Comox.
On Friday (Nov.19), 19 Wing Comox Cmdr. Bryn Elliott explained Building 25, which is an accommodation facility and was occupied, was undergoing renovations when there was a suspected natural gas leak and subsequent explosion around 9 a.m.
All military and civilian contractors are accounted for, he added.
“The urban SAR team, which is from Esquimalt, they’ve been searching all night long using acoustic and infrared technologies in order to see if there is anyone in there …there is a lot of debris … (and they’re) doing their due diligence and going through piece by piece.”
In addition to the military personnel, four civilian partners and two contractors were also treated for injuries. Elliott said all have been released from hospital except for one military member who is currently in surgery in a Vancouver hospital for a non-life-threatening laceration to his leg.
While investigators are on scene at the base, all operations continue to operate normally.
Elliott was not on the base at the time of the explosion and was preparing for his return flight to Comox when he received a call from acting Cmdr. Lt. -Col. Mike Julliet. He explained he understood the situation on base was serious but trusted the personnel.
“I assured (Julliet) he was doing a good job and was giving updates and that personnel were safe and taken care of … we’re in a very fortunate situation; I would say it could have been a lot worse.”
Military training kicked in, he added, and that the response to the incident worked very smoothly.
The 19 Wing fire department along with Search and Rescue Technicians on-base responded to the explosion; a crew from Comox Fire Rescue was also on standby.
“I’m so extremely proud to be a part of this team – when danger arose, they went immediately to the danger to assist, and not away from it.”
With the significant force in the explosion, Elliott explained four to six nearby buildings were also affected, but as of Friday, the gas, power and heat have been restored to those buildings.
Investigators and engineers are currently on scene and will determine if the building is able to be used in the future.