Massive Explosion Levels House In Joliet; At Least 3 Injured

By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Investigators said yard work saved the lives of a couple from Joliet, after a massive explosion leveled their house. Investigators and Nicor Gas are still trying to figure out the cause of Sunday afternoon's explosion that destroyed a house in the 2200 block of East Washington Street.

A husband and wife were gardening outside the home at about 2:40 p.m. when something exploded in the house, East Joliet Fire Protection District Chief Kirk Kelly said.

It’s still unclear what set off the blast, he said.

“It was a pretty good explosion,” according to Kelly, who said it “devastated” the home.

One neighbor who spoke to CBS 2 also called it devastating.

“It’s gone – gone!” said one man said. “I mean, it’s leveled to the foundation.”

He said the sights and sounds following the explosion reminded him of a war zone.

“Like when I was in Vietnam, that’s how it sounded,” the man said.The blast broke the windows of nearby homes, and some neighbors were hurt by flying debris; but it did not cause a fire.

The husband and wife who lived in the home were outside doing yard work at the time.  They were injured in the explosion, but the fire chief said that probably saved their life.

The wife was taken to Silver Cross Hospital, where she was listed in critical condition, Kelly said. Her condition improved by Monday, and she’s expected to be released in a day or so.

The husband was also taken to a hospital, where his condition stabilized, Kelly said. Another person was hospitalized with minor injuries, while a fourth refused transport.

Crews on Monday were digging through the rubble under the supervision of investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Kelly said.

“It’s going to be a long day of digging out the house,” he said.

(WBBM Newsradio and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this copy.)