Officials: 3 people dead, 39 homes damaged after house explosion in Evansville
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Authorities confirm that three people are dead following a house explosion that occurred in Evansville on Wednesday afternoon.
It happened near the 1000 block of North Weinbach Avenue.
Officials say the call originally came in just before 1 p.m.
The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office says three people were killed as a result of the explosion. Officials with the Evansville Fire Department say another person was transported to a nearby hospital, but the severity of the victim’s injuries is unknown at this time.
Officials say more details will be released once the victims’ families are notified.
People on scene tell our 14 News crews they felt their homes and businesses shake when the explosion happened.
Vincent Taylor says he was working on a roof two blocks away. When he heard the explosion, he looked up and saw debris falling from the sky.
He rushed to the scene and was there just moments after the explosion.
“Total devastation – it was bad,” Taylor said. “I looked over and saw the guy in the grass and it looked bad, but a lot of people lost everything down here. Their houses are totally gone. It’s bad.”
Roxane Weber, who lives about a half block down the road on Weinbach, says she’s sad to hear about her neighbors. Weber also tells 14 News that she’ll have some problems of her own to contend with in the aftermath of Wednesday’s explosion.
“I’m worried for other people around them because it’s mostly older folks on that end,” Weber said. “It was like a bomb went off near us. All the left side of our house the windows blew, and I have cracks everywhere. It’s like we have an old plastered house.”
Nearby resident Dorthy Waters was at home when the explosion occurred.
“It sounded like a sonic boom,” Waters said. “I thought a bomb fell on us or like a tree fell through the house, it shook so hard it went through my chest, it shook my windows. I don’t know what happened but I’m very sad about those people.”
Evansville Fire Chief Mike Connelly says that a special collapse unit was requested to the scene.
Officials say that most surrounding houses were unoccupied except for pets.
The Evansville Police Department urged people to avoid the area of North Hercules Avenue between Columbia Avenue and Vogel Road. Police say this area was blocked off.
EPD officials also asked people to avoid the area of North Weinbach Avenue from Vogel Road to Morgan Avenue. They say the road was completely shut down.
The Evansville Fire Department says that Weinbach Avenue will be closed overnight as police keep the area secured.
You can watch our 2:30 p.m. update below:
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Chief Connelly said 39 homes were damaged as a result of the explosion, and four homes were destroyed.
According to Chief Connelly, building commission officials ruled that 11 of the 39 homes damaged in the explosion are deemed “uninhabitable” and the number of people displaced is unknown at this time.
Chief Connelly says that Vogel Elementary School will be a reception area for residents left displaced following the explosion. The American Red Cross will be on-site to assist them.
He also says an arson investigation is now underway.
You can watch our 3:30 p.m. update below:
During another briefing later in the afternoon, Chief Connelly said there’s a possibility of more victims in the fallout of this explosion.
Chief Connelly also says that search and debris cleanup has been paused until the nearby homes are deemed safe. He says the affected area is approximately a 100-foot radius surrounding the blast.
You can watch the full briefing in the video below:
The cause of the explosion remains unknown at this time.
Authorities urge anyone who has video of the explosion to send it to the Evansville Police Department to assist in the investigation.
Besides Evansville police and fire crews, other agencies that responded to the explosion include Ohio Valley Search and Rescue, American Medical Response, Vanderburgh County Emergency Management Agency, CenterPoint Energy, American Red Cross, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Indiana State Fire Marshals Office, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Scott Township Fire Department Ambulance Service.
We will keep you updated with the latest developments as the investigation moves forward.
You can watch our entire team coverage in the following video from 14 News at 6 p.m.
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