Evacuation zone remains around Walker Cause of blast, fire still under investigation

The investigation into the explosion and fire that occurred in the early-morning hours of Thursday at J.W. Walker School is continuing, with the evacuation zone previously established still in place as of press time today.
Public information officer Darryl Allan said this morning that Union Gas crews have been working around-the-clock to fix the gas line break which they located on Keating Avenue.
“They put in . . . I guess the best way to describe it is a bypass around the break,” Allan explained. “So they had to tap into the line at one end of the break and then tap in at the other end and then run a line that bypasses that break, which allows them to continue the gas service.
“They’re doing all sorts of testing out there right now. What they have got there is a temporary thing,” he added. “There’s still work that needs to be done to finish the repair.
“They’re going to be out there for some time.”
Inspector Rolf Waffler of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office remains on site today investigating the cause of the explosion. When the evacuation order is lifted will remain up to Waffler.
The public is reminded that the evacuation zone includes the Adventure Inn, the Westfort Apartments, as well as several residences near J.W. Walker.
The public is requested to avoid travel in the restricted area.
Meanwhile, businesses in the area of the School, including The Adventure Inn, Energy Fitness, and Selective Services, will not open until the investigation is over, at least partially because they don’t have gas service, Allan said.
All other businesses in that area are open.
Super 8 Motel was taken off the evacuation list last night because of its distance from the site.
Fort Frances High School, St. Francis School, and the Northwest Catholic District School Board office remain closed for a second day today, but are expected to reopen Monday.
In a press release issued yesterday, the Rainy River District School Board said educational arrangements are being made for the roughly 350 J.W. Walker students.
The board added further details will be released regarding student accommodations since it is dependent upon the condition of J.W. Walker School.