A thundering boom startled Vern Eastman just after midnight Wednesday.
He looked out his bathroom window and saw that a garage door had blown off of one of the units of the neighbouring townhouse complex.
What Eastman had witnessed was an explosion in a townhome in downtown Aldergrove, that set the structure on fire and sent three people to hospital.
Langley Drug Section has assumed conduct of the investigation into the explosion, said RCMP Cpl. Holly Largy.
Police believe there may have been a butane extraction site established in the centre garage and will continue their investigation in this regard, said Largy. Butane extraction is usually done to make hash oil.
Three homes were still on fire when emergency responders arrived to the townhouse complex at 27125 31A Ave. Two men were found in the middle garage suffering from severe burns, police said.
As soon as Eastman saw the fire, he instinctively ran to help. He said that after “three or four kicks,” he managed to break the unit’s front door open. He was met with a wall of smoke, so he covered his face and made his way upstairs.
“The kids and them were at the top of the stairs,” Eastman said.
He said the home “went up really fast. It was pretty scary.”
Eastman’s stepson William said, “everyone in the neighbourhood is thanking” his stepdad for his actions.
The two men who had burns were taken to hospital, one via air ambulance — while one person in a neighbouring unit was taken to Langley Memorial Hospital with smoke inhalation, said Township Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Ferguson.
The call came in about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, with reports of a fire at 27125 31A Ave. Close to 40 firefighters responded from Halls 3, 4, 5 and 7. It took over two hours for the fire to come under control, and crews were still on scene late Wednesday morning.
“It started in the centre unit. It started from an explosion,” Ferguson said.
“The centre unit is completely damaged through all three floors and the unit number 40 and unit number 42 have extensive damage on their third floor.”
Firefighters also rescued five cats from a unit to the north.
Neighbours displaced are being assisted with lodging until their insurance takes over.
Currently, police wait for a structural engineer to attend and determine if entry onto the site is safe. The two neighbouring units were both heavily damaged by the fire.