Charges laid in townhouse explosion

A townhouse on Southdale Road sits badly damaged after a fire last Friday which police say was...

A townhouse on Southdale Road sits badly damaged after a fire last Friday which police say was caused by a drug lab (MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)

Jennifer O'Brien, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:08 AM ET

LONDON -- Families forced from their homes by an explosion in a drug lab are drawing comfort from charges against a London man, a community worker says.

"People are scared and angry that somebody would be so selfish to do something like that in a community where there are so many children," Kate Ballagh-Steeper, community chaplain for the Southdale public housing complex, said Tuesday.

"That fire could've easily wiped out the whole row (of houses)."

A 26-year-old man is charged in the blast Aug. 15 that blew out a hole in the exterior of a townhouse and started a fire. Five other units in the London and Middlesex Housing Corp. complex reserved for families were damaged.

No one was injured. Damage is estimated at $600,000.

The charges announced Tuesday will bring some relief to the community, Ballagh-Steeper said.

"People will feel better about that."

Neighbours are rallying to collect donations and items for families who lost clothing, furniture and electronics in the fire.

At least one family has been relocated, but they're still without appliances, said a friend named Denise who's collecting donations for them.

Police believe the explosion was triggered by someone producing marijuana wax at the townhouse using a dangerous process growing in popularity in London.

Marijuana leaves are soaked in butane, Det. Sgt. Chris McCoy said.

"Obviously the gases from the butane are filling the space," he said. "Any source of ignition becomes a very volatile situation."


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