A house explosion leveled two homes and damaged dozens more in Marengo early Sunday.
Authorities responded to the explosion around 5 a.m. on 7th Circle, according to Marengo Fire Chief Bob Bradbury.
Upon arrival, fire officials saw that two houses were completely gone and called for backup to search for possible victims.
The preliminary investigation indicated that no one was inside the houses that were destroyed, Bradbury said.
A neighbor said the residents of the home that exploded were on vacation at the time.
Firefighters rescued four people with ladders up to the second floor windows of a burning home next door, authorities said. [[427798553, C]]
One person was taken to an area hospital, according to fire officials. Further details on the victim’s injuries and condition were not immediately available.
Preliminary reports indicate that more than 45 homes were impacted, according to the American Red Cross, which staged a reception center at Marengo High School to help families in need of support.
While two homes were completely leveled, Bradbury said several others were rocked out of their foundations by the explosion.
Multiple cars were also damaged and debris was scattered throughout the street and surrounding lawns.
The explosion shook several people in the neighborhood awake, with many rushing outside to see the commotion.
“We felt the percussion in our house,” said Ryan Dreher, who lives one block away and captured the initial blaze on cell phone video. [[427800743, C]]
“I came down here to make sure everybody’s okay,” he added.
Calling it “the biggest boom I’ve ever heard,” Deb Hamilton also ran outside from her home down the street, which was damaged in the blast.
“I came down the stairs, the door was blown out, I went outside and saw flames,” she said.
“I heard the boom and everything; it woke me up really bad,” echoed Tyler Smart, who rushed to help the people who lived next to the home that exploded.
“There was a lady right down in the house right next to it,” Smart said. “I got her out of the house and everything, helped her out and everything and looked over and seen all this stuff,” he continued, gesturing to the housing materials littered across the block.
“Houses are replaceable, everything’s replaceable,” he said. “Lives aren’t.”
The gas company shut off gas in the area as crews remained on the scene for several hours.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.