Police investigate a suspicious explosion at a strip-mall barbershop in southeast London

Fire investigators and firefighters walking out of barber shop

The Ontario Fire Marshal, London Fire Department, and London Police Department investigate an explosion and fire inside a barbershop in London, Ont. on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. The explosion occurred shortly after midnight Sunday morning. Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press

London police forensic investigators spent Monday combing through burned debris inside an Adelaide Street barbershop that was hit by a suspicious explosion during the long weekend.

Investigators photographed and removed documents and other items from Universal Kuts, placing them inside plastic evidence bags.

No arrests had been made following the early-morning explosion and fire at the strip mall located at 920 Commissioners Rd. just east of Adelaide Street, which caused $750,000 damage.

The owner of Universal Kuts, the business where the explosion originated, arrived at the scene Sunday morning to survey damage after friends alerted him to the blast.

“Everybody was calling me, but I was sleeping,” said the man, who identified himself only as Shehab.

“They won’t let me go inside to get my (insurance) papers,” he said.

Jim Karaouzas, the owner of Jimbo’s bar in the plaza, said his doorman saw flames suddenly shooting from the front of the barbershop at 12:15 a.m. Sunday.

“Then, he went right inside, got the phone and called police,” Karaouzas said.

Firefighters responded to a reported fire at the plaza at 12:20 a.m. Sunday, platoon chief Colin Shewell said

“Upon our arrival we determined that there was no fire at the scene. However, there was smoke. Crews went right into rescue mode,” Shewell said, adding nobody was found inside.

“It was determined quite quickly that it was of a suspicious nature,” he said of the explosion.

The bulk of the damage from the explosion was contained to the barbershop, where burned debris surrounded melted barber chairs inside. Outside, shattered glass from the front door littered the ground. The front window panes of a tanning salon beside Universal Kuts were broken.

The east-end plaza is home to more than a dozen businesses including a Service Ontario outlet, Edward Jones investments, Kokomo’s tanning salon and the March of Dimes Canada charity. The plaza is owned by an Ontario numbered company, the property manager said.

A steady stream of business owners arrived during the long weekend to check on their operations, though some weren’t allowed inside because their businesses were cordoned off by police tape.

Thy Ha, who owns a nail salon just a few doors from the barbershop, said she was going for coffee Sunday morning when she noticed the police presence outside her spa.

She was allowed into her salon, where she found it flooded with water, likely from firefighters’ hoses, she said.

“You can see the water,” Ha said, gesturing to the soaked floor.

“You have to wear a life jacket,” she joked.

Some of the business owners expressed frustration about being kept in the dark by investigators about what happened.

“Nobody will tell me anything,” said a man who wasn’t allowed to enter his insurance business on the second floor of the building.

London police are leading the investigation with help from the London fire department and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

Source: Police investigate suspicious explosion at strip-mall barbershop in southeast London | The London Free Press