First responders called to deal with a suspected gas leak took cover when an explosion destroyed an Illinois home and set a second house on fire.
A church has been evacuated and neighbors have been warned to take shelter there after the city of Woodstock was rocked by the blast on Lincoln Avenue.
A crew from the Woodstock Fire and Rescue District arrived at 12:35 a.m. Monday after reports of gas and outside St Mary Catholic Church and School after a contractor hit a pipe in the road.
They evacuated the church and called engineers from Nicor Gas to the scene, who began repairing the leak at 1:10 p.m.
More than an hour later, the blast ripped through the house opposite the church, sending debris through the street and setting fire to the neighboring house and a parked car.
One home was destroyed and one nearly destroyed by the blast that sent first responders running for cover in Woodstock, Illinois
A parked car was at the epicenter of the blast that ripped through homes in Woodstock
Residents across the city felt the blast as fire and rescue efforts required reinforcements from neighboring districts.
“Please God, let there be no one ‘sheltering in place’ in the house that exploded,” Monica Tarr wrote on the department’s Facebook page.
“I live nearby and if there was school today the kids would have walked right in there as soon as they got out,” @TheCannacrat tweeted.
“We were working in the square and the whole building shook and things fell over,” one resident told Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
‘It felt like the windows were going to break. Absolutely insane. I smelled gas this morning around 10am.’
“Luncheon in the nearby restaurant building shook and bottles fell to the ground,” Linda Smith-Lachnit wrote.
“Hubby and I smelled gas when we walked into the building.”
“I broke the windows of my mother’s house on Judd,” Kasey Lynn Zeller said.
‘I was really hoping no one was home, or that they had been evacuated!!! So scary.’
The house on Lincoln Avenue was destroyed by the blast (left) and the neighboring house was burned
Firefighters had to extinguish the smoldering remains of the $250,000 home
Residents of the Illinois city reported hearing and feeling the explosion from Lincoln Avenue
The new-build house was reduced to a smoking ruin after the explosion at 2:35 p.m
An aerial photo showed the extent of the destruction ripping through the leafy suburb
The force of the blast threw debris across the road and into nearby gardens
“I was driving around there earlier and I smelled very strong natural gas. We felt the explosion all the way here on McConnell Road,” Laura Carnivele added.
“My parents live on Pleasant Street, all summer we called and complained about the gas smell after they installed new lines,” Tracey Kohl wrote.
“Nicor told us it was just residual mercaptan in the soil. They were working in front of my parents’ house again today!’
More than 140 people have been killed in gas explosions and nearly 700 have been injured in the U.S., according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The regulator counted more than 2,700 gas leaks across the country that were considered serious at the time, 362 of which caused explosions.
The latest blast comes less than two months after a gas explosion destroyed NFL star Caleb Farley’s home in Mooresville, North Carolina, killing his father Robert Farley, 61.
A photo of the home, owned by the NFL and Titans star, before it collapsed
The full extent of the damage was seen in aerial footage of the building after the blast
No injuries have been reported so far as a result of the Woodstock explosion, but first responders are still battling the fire.
“The safety of the public and every family we serve is our No. 1 value,” a Nicor spokeswoman said in a statement.
“A third party performing work unrelated to Nicor Gas damaged a natural gas pipeline in the 200 block of North Tryon Street earlier today.
“Nicor Gas personnel remain on scene and are working with first responders to safely secure the area and assist local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”