12/09/2013 02:12 EST | Updated 02/08/2014 05:59 EST

Woman missing after house explosion

A woman is missing after an explosion and fire at a home in central Hamilton, police and firefighters say.

The house, on Wilson Street at Victoria, collapsed about a half hour after the fire started, said platoon chief Brian Stark. Firefighters had to call off their search for the occupant.

At this point, firefighters don’t know whether the occupant, a woman, was home at the time or not. Some neighours say they believe the woman left with some of her pets shortly before the fire started.

The explosion occurred just after 12:30 p.m. The cause of the explosion and fire has not been determined.

Monday afternoon, an investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal's office was on the scene. But police said the fire scene was considered too dangerous to carry out any investigation inside the rubble. 

Theresa Ross was walking in the park across the street from the home at the time the fire started.

“I heard two big bangs and I thought it was a car crash and then the window popped out. It was very scary. I saw the window pop out and it burst into flames.”

The home is a one-and-half storey brick structure.

Hamilton Fire Department Platoon Chief Brian Stark said firefighters initially went into the home but had exited before the collapse.

Next door neighbours who heard the explosion and came outside to see what had happened are being interviewed by police.

Hamilton Police Staff Sgt. Andrew Dunlop said because of the collapse: "It's unsafe to do anything for a few days."