Three people have died after a home explosion ripped through a southern Indiana neighborhood on Wednesday. The blast damaged as many as 39 homes and rendered at least 11 of them “uninhabitable,” Evansville Fire Department Chief Mike Connelly said.
The explosion was reported around 1 pm on North Weinbach Avenue in Evansville and affected everything within a 100-foot radius. The home where the explosion occurred was completely obliterated, and a next-door neighbor’s house was effectively sliced in half, Evansville Courier and Press reported.
Connelly said it’s possible the death toll could rise, as many of the homes were too unstable to search as of Wednesday. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been on the scene to aid in the investigation.
Dramatic footage was captured by security cameras at a nearby business.
FIRST LOOK at the explosion, caught on security footage at ABK Alarms Inc. @14News pic.twitter.com/dqJeksrUyl
— Jordan Yaney (@Jordan14News) August 10, 2022
Jacki Baumgart, an office manager at Award World Trophies about two and a half blocks away, said the explosion threw everyone into a panic.
“We thought a tree fell on the building or a car ran into the place,” Baumgart said. “Debris from the ceiling came down,” Daily Mail reported.
She continued, “Everybody here immediately ran out of the building. We thought the building was going to come down.”
(Video: Courier and Press)
The Evansville Police Department posted to Facebook a request for anyone with footage of the explosion to come forward.
“Our thoughts are with those closely involved with the explosion that happened on N. Weinbach this afternoon,” they wrote. “As more information becomes available the respective agencies investigating will be able to provide more information. N. Weinbach between Columbia and Oak Hill will be shut down for the foreseeable future, please plan an alternate route. If anyone has footage of the incident, please forward a copy of the video to our Detectives Unit at email@example.com.”
Aerial footage shows the extent of the damage.
Evidently, CenterPoint Energy, the area’s main utility provider, was called to the same house in 2018. As such, the massive explosion is believed to be the result of a gas leak, though officials are doubtful that a determination will be made “because we never could really pin down exactly the cause of that leak.”
“CenterPoint Energy is working closely with the Evansville Fire Department, State Fire Marshal and other agencies as the investigation of this incident continues,” the utility said.
Of the house where the blast originated, officials said the explosion “blew the roof up, blew the walls out, and then everything comes down around on top of it” and that there were “parts of the building that were across the street and several hundred feet away.”
Four blocks away, Jasmine Vickers said the explosion happened during nap time for the 12 kids at Future Leaders Childcare. Incredibly, the blast only awakened one child, “but the building shook, and we looked outside and saw everyone running.” She said she woke everyone up and evacuated the building.
An expletive-laden video taken by a nearby resident said it all.
Another look at the N Weinbach explosion in #Evansville. This one is of the actual site of the blast. The home has been reduced to complete rubble. You can see an adjacent home split in half.
🎥: Drew Strader
Warning: Language pic.twitter.com/JGYM01hgQ8
— Valerie Lyons (@VLyonsTV) August 10, 2022
Wednesday’s deadly explosion was the second in the same area in only five years. On June 27, 2017, a house explosion killed two people and injured three others. Five people were in that home, but two were unable to get out before succumbing to smoke inhalation.
In June 2021, Vanderburgh Circuit Court Judge David Kiely dismissed a lawsuit against CenterPoint related to the 2017 explosion.
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