Thursday, October 13, 2016

a cable company crew ruptured a gas line, causing a natural gas explosion and fire at a townhouse complex in Romeoville in suburban Chicago that injured two utility workers, killed a dog

Gas explosion destroys townhouses, injures 2 in Chicago suburb

Published October 12, 2016
Associated Press

Two workers injured in gas explosion in Illinois

Authorities say a natural gas explosion and fire at a townhouse complex in suburban Chicago has injured two utility workers.

The explosion in Romeoville was reported Tuesday evening.

Authorities say the explosion apparently stemmed from an earlier-reported gas leak. Two townhouse units were destroyed, but no area residents were reported injured. Authorities say two Nicor workers were taken to hospitals, including one in fair condition and one in serious-to-critical condition.

The village of Romeoville says in a statement that the Nicor employees were in the process of repairing the leak, which was reported earlier in the afternoon.

The exact cause of the explosion is under investigation. The American Red Cross says more than 20 people were displaced from homes as the surrounding area was evacuated as a precaution.


'I Lost Everything': Woman's Home Decimated, Dog Killed in Gas Explosion
A police official said it was the second explosion at the building since 1996
By Christian Farr

The Romeoville Fire Department was responding to an "explosion" and structure fire at the intersection of Strawflower Court and Wespark Boulevard in Romeoville, officials confirmed Tuesday. NBC 5's Christian Farr reports. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016)

Jacquelyn Rodriguez Essawi lost her little dog Jax and most of her possessions when a gas explosion leveled two townhomes in the southwest suburbs Tuesday night.

“Everything, I lost everything,” she said through sobs.

The explosion happened about 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Romeoville after, investigators say, a cable company crew somehow ruptured a gas line hours earlier. Two Nicor workers were injured in the blast.

“I don’t know the full extent of the injuries to our fellow employees,” said Joe Delreal of Nicor. “Our hearts and prayers go out to them and their families.”

An explosion in 1999 in the same area took out 30 units where Tuesday’s explosion destroyed both townhomes, officials confirmed Tuesday night.

Latoya Ellis lives across the street from the two destroyed homes and learned Tuesday that the building she lives in now had blown up 17 years ago.

“If they knew that this problem happened before, why would they allow someone to drill again?” she asked.

Officials did not have an immediate answer to questions like Ellis’.

“Why there were two explosions at the same house—I don’t know,” said Romeoville Police Chief Mark Turvey. “Hopefully an investigation will determine why that was.”


Two Nicor Gas Workers Injured, Townhouse Units Destroyed in Romeoville Explosion
One worker is seriously injured and the other has reportedly suffered minor injuries.

By Scott Viau (Patch Staff) - October 12, 2016 10:45 am ET

ROMEOVILLE, IL — Two Nicor Gas workers have been injured and two townhouse units have been destroyed in a massive fire and explosion caused by a gas leak, according to the Village of Romeoville.

Lockport Fire Protection District and the Romeoville Fire Department responded to an explosion at around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Strawflower Court and Wespark Boulevard in Romeoville, the Village said. Nicor employees were in the process of repairing a gas leak, which was reported earlier in the afternoon.

Two townhouse units have been destroyed due to the explosion. No injuries to residents have been reported, but two Nicor workers have been injured. One is in serious condition, and the other reportedly has minor injuries, according to the Village. Both have been transported to the hospital.

Several units surrounding the explosion have been evacuated as a precautionary measure. Emergency personnel and Nicor Gas employees are still detecting gas, according to the Village. Nicor is currently working on shutting off the main in the area.

Romeoville Public Works, Fire Department, Police Department, Emergency Management, Building Department and the Lockport Fire Protection District are all on the scene.

Valley View School District 365U Director of School and Community Relations Larry Randa said classes at nearby Hermansen Elementary School will go on as scheduled tomorrow. The road closures in the neighborhood will not affect bus routes.

A video posted by Rob Elgas of ABC 7 shows a heavy cloud of thick, dark smoke billowing from the remains of a home in the southwest suburban neighborhood. Firefighters can be seen around the perimeter of the explosion hosing it down with water. The video shows just a bit of flames, but most of it is smoke clogging the air.

Another video shows heavy flames coming from the home. A firefighter is heard on video pushing the crowd away.

"We gotta make sure this doesn't explode again," he said.

Romeoville resident Sam Jackson was in her home at the time of the explosion. She and her dad went outside to look and saw “huge, huge flames.”
“I’ve never seen a house fire that big, nor have I heard an explosion that loud,” she said.

The flames on the house are apparently out, having stopped at around 8:30 p.m.

Jackson said she saw Nicor Gas working on the scene earlier in the day. There was an open gas pipe in the middle of the street, she said, and multiple police and fire trucks surrounding it.

“I saw them working on the gas line probably around 3 p.m.,” she said.

Nicor Gas tweeted that it received a call at 7:30 p.m. for an explosion at Strawflower Court in Romeoville and is assisting with the investigation.

The American Red Cross arrived on the scene just after 9 p.m. to provide disaster assistance.

“At this time, the number of people displaced has not been determined,” Red Cross Communications Manager Patricia Kemp said.

The Romeoville Police Department sent out a tweet advising residents to avoid the Wespark subdivision as all streets are closed to the public.