MARENGO, Ill. (AP) — Residents of a northern Illinois city have rallied together after a home explosion damaged more than 50 houses, sent two people to the hospital and caused widespread power outages.
The blast occurred around 5 a.m. Sunday inside a house in Marengo, about 60 miles northwest of Chicago. The explosion destroyed the house, leveled the home next door, caused four others to catch fire and sent debris across the neighborhood. City officials estimate at least eight homes are uninhabitable.
Fire Chief Bob Bradbury said authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion, though it appeared to be accidental. Residents of the house weren’t home at the time. Two people with minor burns were rescued from a nearby house that caught fire but have since been released.
The Red Cross, which processed dozens of families the day of the blast, was waiting on inspectors to determine how many could return home before deciding on a housing plan. Marengo High School was being used as a cooling center for affected families and their pets.
Local businesses have also offered assistance, including Pointers Saloon. The downtown Marengo business offered $500 gift cards to displaced residents and $250 to those without electricity.
Marengo resident Bill Barry said the town has pulled together.
“When I was standing out there at 5 a.m. when everybody was out there in their pajamas, everyone was checking on each other,” Barry said. “Asking, ‘Are you OK,’ ‘Is there damage to your home,’ ‘Do you need help?'”
Officials from electric utility Commonwealth Edison reported that nearly 140 customers were affected by the incident.