Explosion levels a building at the corner of Erie Street North and Talbot Trail in Wheatley, August 26, 2021. Photo credit: Kathryn Parent, Photography by Phos via Twitter.

A Windsor-based law firm has initiated a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit against the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, seeking millions of dollars in damages for a group of residents affected by a gas explosion that rocked downtown Wheatley last year.

According to media reports, a statement of claim was filed in the Chatham Superior Court of Justice on Friday by Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP, which is representing six plaintiffs who suffered personal injury, property damages, and business losses as a result of the explosion.

Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is HSE Integrated Ltd., a health, safety and environmental company hired by the municipality.

The lawsuit alleges the explosion in downtown Wheatley on August 21, 2021, was the result of negligence on the part of the name defendants.

David Taylor, Chatham-Kent’s director of legal services, confirmed to CKXS News that the municipality had been served with the lawsuit on Tuesday, but was unable to provide further comment on the allegations.

“Our response to those allegations will really have to be dealt with through the court process,” he said. “We continue to remain really focused on the situation faced by our citizens [in Wheatley] and towards trying to resolve that situation.”

The class action suit is seeking compensation in the amounts of $60 million for general damages, $20 million in special damages, $10 million in aggravated damages, and $10 million in punitive damages.

In September, an investigation concluded that a release of methane hydrogen sulphide was to blame for the explosion that destroyed two buildings and injured 20 people.

Work to cap underground gas wells in the area around the blast site was completed this past fall, but an evacuation zone remains in place in the area. The evacuation zone has been reduced multiple times over the past year, with some residents being allowed to return to their homes, however, other residents and business owners are still unable to access their properties.