A father and daughter were both injured when their home exploded and caught fire in southwest suburban Homer Glen after a gas leak, officials confirmed Thursday. More than a dozen homes were evacuated as the area experienced some of the coldest temperatures so far this season.
The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. near 142nd Street and Parker Road. Nicor Gas spokesman Joe DelReal said the company was working to cap a gas leak in the area but had not yet determined the source.
"Right now we’re working to isolate part of the distribution system at 143rd and Parker," he said at a press conference.
A cloud of smoke and large flames could be seen miles away.
The American Red Cross was on the scene to assist those displaced and affected by the explosion, the relief organization said in a statement.
The mayor of Homer Glen, George Yukich, said there wasn't immediate word of the extent of the burn victims' injuries.
"Our prayers go out to them and their families," he said.
Residents in the area reported being notified of a possible gas leak before the fire broke out. An evacuation within a 2-mile radius of the home was put in place and the Village Hall was being used as an evacuation center, officials said.
Neighbors reported hearing an explosion just hours after the smell of gas was reported in the area.
"The smell of gas was so strong, it was just unbelievable," said neighbor Lisa Petty.
Sharon Bargiel lives a block away from the scene and said she didn't realize what she'd heard until her husband got home.
"I said no, just look out our bedroom window, and you could see the smoke and plumes coming up," she told NBC 5. "I almost started crying, I was worried someone in the house was hurt."
Meanwhile, the Red Cross is trying to provide some relief to the area.
"Hot meals and beverages are being provided at a reception center in Homer Glen for displaced residents until the evacuation order is lifted," the Red Cross said. "Additionally, the Red Cross will provide immediate disaster relief including lodging assistance, and emotional support to those affected."
The Will County Sheriff's office had advised motorists and residents to avoid the area due to a gas leak.
Streets were closed in the area, including 135th to Parker Road, 143rd to Lemont Road and 143rd to Bell Road.
"We are asking motorists to please stay clear of these areas until Nicor has safely secured the leak," the sheriff's office said.
Todd Fonfara, Northwest Homer Glen's deputy fire chief, said first responders were going door to door checking on residents.