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Explosion Destroys Home, Sets 2 Others On Fire In Dolton

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Investigators in the south suburbs were trying to determine what caused an explosion and fire that left one home destroyed and two others damaged Sunday afternoon in Dolton.

Neighbors said they heard people inside a vacant home on the 300 block of Riverside Drive hours before the explosion around 2 p.m. Sunday.

"I heard this blast, boom, and my house shook," said neighbor Bessie Lipscomb.

The blast triggered an extra-alarm response as the flames spread to two neighboring homes.

"The flames, the flames was just gulfing out of the house, and getting higher and higher," Lipscomb said. "I just could not believe that was happening right before my eyes."

Before firefighters arrived, Janice Mingo-Foster noticed her elderly neighbor's vehicle was still in her driveway, so she ran inside to help her escape minutes before the flames spread to the home.

"I banged on her door, and went inside to get her out," Mingo-Foster said. "Thank God she was able to get out."

No injuries were reported, but the house where the explosion occurred was completely destroyed. The three-bedroom single-family house had stood for 74 years. The two homes on either side of it were heavily damaged, and were deemed uninhabitable.

"It could have gone to where all three houses could have went down to the ground. So, yeah, I'm glad that the fire departments were out here and got it knocked down and taken care of fast," Dolton Public Works Supt. Matthew Stacey said.

While Public Works crews were pleased that no one was hurt in the fire, but they also wanted to ensure that no one got hurt in the rubble of the house that was destroyed. That's why, at first light on Monday, they showed up to knock down what was left of the once-proud home.

"Kids are always curious. We try to take the danger away, you know, that we don't give them that opportunity to get hurt," Dolton Public Works supervisor John Conway said.

The American Red Cross was providing assistance to the families left homeless by the fire.

The cause of the explosion was under investigation, but fire officials have not said it appears suspicious.

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