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Explosion, fire rock downtown Prince George

“Northern Health had confirmed that three people were transported to hospital this morning, only one of whom had serious injuries."

9:50 a.m.

“Northern Health had confirmed that three people were transported to hospital this morning, only one of whom had serious injuries. It is still too early into this event to determine any cause," said Prince George RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Jennifer Cooper. “We have been informed that hydro in the area has been shut down and will remain that way for an undetermined amount of time,”

Police have closed the area of Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue from George Street to Dominion Street. No vehicle or pedestrian traffic is allowed within that perimeter.

The building was built in 1956 and had been the site of the Achillion Restaurant. It was operated by Kostas Iliopulos for 35 years, before it closed in 2016.

9:30 a.m.

Storefront windows on Fourth Avenue were blown out by the explosion. The adjacent UNBC Wood Innovation Research Lab was also damaged in the explosion.

Witness Shayne Hawley said the building attracts a number of street people and he suspects there were several injuries as a result of the blast.

“There was a bunch of people in the back alley screaming, saying that people were trapped,” said Hawley.

“I work down here quite bit (for Datoff Construction) at the pool and the Hyatt Hotel and lots of people sleep around there. And just hang out on the back step of that place, so I’m assuming there were a bunch of people around there when that happened. I would imagine they didn’t walk away unscathed.”

9 a.m.

Cpl. Jennifer Cooper of the Prince George RCMP said many people were taken to University Hospital of Northern B.C. but could not provide further details.

Driving to work at the Canfor Leisure Pool just before 7 a.m. Tuesday, Hawley thought a bomb had gone off.

He had just gone through the Second Avenue intersection on Dominion Street when he saw a huge fireball erupt in a massive explosion at the building that once was the Achillion Restaurant.

“Right in front of me, it blew up, another 10 seconds and it would have blown up right in front of me,” said Hawley.

He parked his truck and rushed to help a woman in her 50s with her face covered in blood.

“Me and another guy helped her and sat her on the curb and then the police showed up,” said Hawley.

7:45 a.m.

Prince George RCMP are asking resident to steer clear of an explosion and fire near Fourth Avenue and Dominion Street.

The explosion shook downtown at about 7 a.m. and first responders are on the scene.

“We are insisting that all members of the public stay out of the immediate area to give first responders room to work safely,” Cpl. Jennifer Cooper of the Prince George RCMP said in a release. “The number of  casualties is currently unknown. More information will be provided as it comes available.”

Police have currently closed the streets in a square block between Third Avenue and Fifth Avenue on Dominion Street, all the way down to Queensway.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.