Authorities are investigating if a gas leak was to blame for a house explosion that rocked a Meredosia neighborhood last night.
First responders were on scene for more than five hours last night working to extinguish a fire at 227 Orange Street in Meredosia after the West Central Illinois Dispatch Center received word the house had exploded.
Director of the Jacksonville-Morgan County Office of Emergency Management Phil McCarty says it was evident what had happened when crews arrived.
“At approximately 7:30, 7:35 Wednesday night, we received numerous calls regarding a possible explosion, fire in Meredosia. When the Meredosia Fire Department arrived on scene, what the callers described was exactly that. All along Orange Street, debris was scattered across a city block, and there was a fire on what remaining structure was left there.”
The single-family home was completely leveled by the explosion and subsequent fire. A house next door immediately to the south suffered extensive damage to the exterior, and houses directly across the street had windows shattered by the blast.
McCarty says no one was injured in the blast or during fire suppression efforts. He says although the home was unoccupied at the time, it was not abandoned.
“Thankfully the home was unoccupied. The family that had lived there, they have since passed away both of them. The family was going through the steps to settle the estate for lack of a better term. So thankfully nobody was in the home or at the residence, or outside for that matter around that area when it happened.”
McCarty says a piece of debris was found approximately 175 feet from the structure to the north. He says authorities from multiple agencies were back on the scene this morning to begin an investigation into what caused the blast.
“The State Fire Marshal’s Office is in charge as well as the Illinois Commerce Commission, considering this could be a gas leak type of event. They get involved with Ameren and they work together to investigate that avenue of it. The Fire Marshal is obviously engaged as well but overall those two, the ICC and the Illinois State Fire Marshal are handling the investigation.”
Meredosia Village President, David Werries, says engineers were on site this morning to inspect the next-door neighbors’ home to the south to determine if any major structural damage had been sustained during the blast.
He says many in the Meredosia community came out to help last night. The neighboring family is staying elsewhere out of caution while damage to their home is being assessed.
Werries says members of the Naples Boat Club which sits near Orange Street, helped the family move food and belongings out of their home and into the club until they are able to safely return.
Officials say an official cause of the blast has yet to be determined. The investigation into the blast is continuing.