Albert Street was blocked off following a natural gas explosion on the roof of the Nanaimo Law Courts Annex building Friday morning. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Rooftop explosion causes evacuation at Nanaimo Law Courts Annex

Gas explosion happened in air conditioning unit Friday morning

Staff at the Nanaimo Law Courts Annex started their work day off with a bang this morning, Feb. 9.

Workers evacuated from the building and the 400 block of Albert Street was blocked off by first responders after a buildup of natural gas inside a heating,ventilation and air-condition unit on the building’s roof detonated shortly before 8 a.m.

Umesh Lal, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, estimated about 12 people were in the building because of the time of day the explosion occurred.

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No one was injured, no fire resulted from the explosion and damage appeared to be limited to the HVAC unit.

“To the HVAC, just the [exhaust] stack blew off and the doors,” Lal said. “I can’t say if there was much damage to the unit.”

Firefighters inspected the unit and ventilated natural gas from inside the building before allowing court staff to return to work. Fortis and a repair contractor were called in to fix the equipment.

Lal did not know what malfunction caused gas to build up and ignite in the unit.

“The contractors are there trying to fix what happened,” Lal said.

The section of Albert Street between Roberts and Selby streets was blocked off for nearly an hour until emergency crews cleared the scene.



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