Newly discovered sights and sounds from Woodman Ave. explosion one year later
LONDON, ONT. -- It’s been one year since the explosion and fire that destroyed four homes on Woodman Avenue.
Scouring an archive of cell phone video from that night has uncovered video snapshots that have never aired before now.
Much of the video documents a brief period after the explosion and before neighbouring homes were completely evacuated.
"OK guys, everybody come with me. We’re going now!" shouts a police officer assisting people to safety.
Other video snippets show fire crews setting up hoses to start battling the flames.
And a man alerts firefighters to flaming debris that’s landed on a nearby roof, “Get that put out before they (ignite).”
It all started around 10:35 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2019 when a car struck a gas meter in front of the home at 450 Woodman Ave.
Minutes later it exploded, seriously injuring several first responders and destroying four homes.
"It was like looking at Dante’s Inferno. Like something out of a movie," says Joe O’Neil.
As a historian and photographer, O’Neil took hundreds of photographs that night.
The Old East Village resident had a unique vantage point - aiming his lens down Queens Avenue before the evacuation zone was expanded.
"On Woodman either north or south, you couldn’t see into the heart of the flames. I saw right into the pit of the inferno," he recalls vividly.
One of his photos, showing three firefighters kneeling while applying water to the flames, was published across Canada.
The others have become an archive of the incident on his computer.
Dramatic images of flames shooting high over the heads of firefighters, and the relative calm the following day as investigators combed through the rubble.
He hopes the photos will show future generations what happened that night on Woodman.
"Just record history. I had no idea what I was standing in the middle of. I didn’t know what was going on. I just thought, 'Snap the photo! Snap the photo!'"