The cause of an explosion that injured a man and destroyed shops in Belconnen, in northern Canberra, is still under investigation, with the surrounding area set to remain closed for some time.
CCTV footage from a parking lot shows when the closed kebab shop caught fire and damaged nearby shops.
The shock wave from the explosion at around 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Turkish Kebab and Pizza on Rae Street was felt in the suburbs two kilometers away.
A man, apparently the owner of the restaurant, who was in the back of the store, was taken to hospital with non-critical injuries.
Firefighters extinguished fires in adjacent premises, which were devastated by blaze, and said stores nearby suffered extensive fire and smoke damage.
‘Shocked’ witness says children narrowly avoided evil
Muhammad Ikram was only a few meters from the kebab when it exploded.
Mr. Ikram owns Jazaa Halal Foods, one of the adjacent stores that was also destroyed in the explosion.
He said he was chatting with his friend, the owner of Turkish Kebab and Pizza, moments before the explosion.
“His arms and hand were burnt.
Mr Ikram said the owner’s wife and children were in a car next to the store watching parts of the building collapse on top of the vehicle.
“The wall fell on the car but the kids were in the backseat… I opened the back door and took the kids out the back door,” he said.
Mr Ikram called the damage “unbelievable” and said he was “totally in shock”.
“I put all my money in the store… now it’s destroyed,” he said.
“I hope we will build and start over.”
“It could have been much worse”: the police
Commander Brett Slater, of ACT Fire & Rescue, said the force of the explosion and the damage was remarkable, with debris strewn hundreds of yards from the site.
“The scene is actually with ACT Policing at the moment and these investigations will continue.”
Acting Detective Inspector Emily McCallum said he was glad the explosion happened on a public holiday as the area was normally occupied.
“It’s in a very busy area, there are a lot of local take out outlets, gas stations, things like that,” she said.
While the police have already spoken to several witnesses, anyone who has witnessed the explosion who has not yet spoken to the police is urged to contact ACT Police Operations on 131 444.