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Massive fire at Bloomingdale bank after car hits gas line

SUV slams into bank in Bloomingdale, erupts in flames
SUV slams into bank in Bloomingdale, erupts in flames 02:55

BLOOMINGDALE, Ill. (CBS) -- A Chase Bank in west suburban Bloomingdale went up in flames Friday night after a driver crashed into the building's gas line - rupturing it and causing an explosion.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, firefighters spent hours working to get the fire under control on this frigid Friday night.

Firefighters rushed to the bank at 136 E. Lake St. in Bloomingdale near the Springbrook Shopping Center, where heavy smoke was visible from the air. The first calls to the fire department came in at 5:20 p.m. The driver slammed into the bank building at 5:05 p.m. – just five minutes after the bank closed for the night.

Massive fire breaks out at Bloomingdale bank 06:00

By 10 p.m., the gas had finally been shut off at the scene. But the wrecked car that sparked the fire was still lodged in the building.

Damage was severe where the car crashed, but also on the opposite side of the bank structure.

Earlier, people watched as a mix of orange and green flames were seen shooting from the bank.

"I have to say - I feel like the flames have gotten higher again," witness Kathy McDermott said as she watched the fire.

"It's going good, because that gas line was severed by the traffic crash," said Frank Giammarese, director of public safety for the Village of Bloomingdale.

Crews battle fire at Bloomingdale bank 04:05

The car ruptured a 2-inch gas line on impact with the building and exploded, officials said.

"She was using the drive-through, and it sounds like she was starting to exit - and for some reason, the brakes didn't work, or inadvertently hit the wrong pedal," Giammarese said. "Thank God no one else was inside the bank at that time at that point, or no one was in close proximity, so we were lucky with the time aspect."

Josh Cass was worried his mother might be inside. She cleans the bank and usually starts around 5 p.m.

But she was not inside during the explosion.

"I sound scared, because I thought she was still here," Cass said.


Cellphone video showed the intensity of the flames as smoke poured out. Fire crews were on ladders trying to pour water onto the building and prevent the fire from spreading to other parts of the building.

Meanwhile underground, Nicor workers raced to dig and cut off the gas line that fed the fire for most of the night.

"I hope they can get the gas shut off soon," said Eric Kowalik. "I know they are digging. Obviously, it's not a quick fix."

Photos taken from Google from before the crash show what appears to be the now-severed gas line. It is only protected by a single small blue bollard.

Google Maps

"The odds of this happening just right from the ATM and into a gas line are pretty extraordinary," Kowalik said. "So the car must have hit just at the right moment - and you know, here we are."

No one was injured in the accident. We are told the driver of the car did not receive any medical attention.

Besides the cold, all the firefighters who fought the blaze were safe Friday night.

Village officials said security will be at the scene Friday night to protect the bank.

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