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‘Still struggling’: Victims of Calgary house explosion face challenges after hospital | CBC News

Nearly four months after a house explosion sent 10 members of Calgary’s South Sudanese community to hospital, many of the victims are still struggling.

But they’re preparing to participate in a prayer of thanks for their survival on Aug. 6, said community advocate Gar Gar.

“They were hoping to invite most people that have contributed to supporting them at that time,” he said.

“I think the main thing about the prayer is to give them that empowerment to know that they’re not alone and to let everybody that helped them see that they are OK.”

The blast in late March saw many of those injured blown into the air before falling into a fiery basement below.

It also damaged several other homes and sent part of the roof of the house that blew up into a yard across the street.

The injured were all adult men and six had life-threatening injuries.

Neighbours rushed to help as many of the injured struggled to climb out of the basement to safety.

A fire engine and several vehicles surround an area where large flames are burning and sending thick black smoke into the snow-filled air.
Fire officials suspect the blast was caused by a natural gas leak. (Submitted by Michelle Van Ree)

All of those injured are now out of hospital, including one man who spent weeks in intensive care with severe burns and was expected to require care for up to six months.

“There’s a lot to be thankful for, especially from where they started,” said Gar, who set up a fundraising campaign.

“We couldn’t believe that miracles could come true and to see them actually walking is amazing.”

Gar said the first goal was to get the men out of hospital. The second and third goals are to find them housing and get them well enough to return to work.

He said housing has been a problem, and some are having to stay with friends and relatives. Those hurt also need to replace documents, like proof of citizenship, permanent residency and health-care cards.

A GoFundMe campaign to help the injured raised just under $30,000, and Gar said that wasn’t enough.

“We wanted to give them something to start on,” he said.

“Some of them are unfortunately still struggling.”

Gar said many of those hurt in the blast were sending money back home to support their families.

He has talked to some of the victims and they’re just happy to be alive.

“You can still see the visible pain, but just the fact that they were out (of hospital) meant the first step to recovery,” he said.

“You can see they’re still dealing with the realization that they’re lucky to be alive, to have escaped something of that magnitude.”

Fire officials suspect a natural gas leak was the most likely cause for the explosion.


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