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Home Explodes In Morgan Park

Updated 12/2/14 - 10:22 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A home in the Morgan Park neighborhood was destroyed in a natural gas explosion Tuesday morning.

Chicago Water Management Department crews were working on the 2100 block of West 107th Place around 8:30 a.m., when someone ruptured a gas line. That brought firefighters and Peoples Gas crews out to the area.

"We started knocking on doors to make sure that we don't have gas levels built up in the homes," Deputy Chicago Fire Cmsr. John McNicholas said.

While Fire Department and Peoples Gas crews were checking on homes on the block, one homeowner reported his boiler caught fire in the basement. The small fire was quickly extinguished.

As firefighters were outside another home at 2148 W. 107th Pl., looking for the gas shutoff, that house exploded.

"I happened to be on the scene. I witnessed the explosion," McNicholas said.

The house was leveled in the blast. The explosion also caused visible damage to the two homes on either side.

The explosion caused a fire that quickly engulfed the home, and the Fire Department brought about 150 firefighters and 50 fire vehicles to the scene, to respond to the fire and gas leak.


No one was in the home at the time, except the family dog. Friends and neighbors said the woman who lives at the home, Darlene Sheahan, is a Chicago Public School teacher with three children -- two of whom are in college. Her youngest son lives at the house with her. The woman's husband is a Chicago firefighter.

"At this point community, we just want to do everything we can to help the Sheahan family get through his this," 19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea said.

A fund for the family has been set up at the Beverly Bank and Trust.

Santos Lopez, who was working about four houses away, said he heard and felt the explosion.

"Heard a loud boom. We walked around my truck, and the house had blown up. The roof looked like it popped up, and the side walls had come out from underneath the roof. There was a fire underneath the front porch, and then within five minutes, the whole house was engulfed in flames," he said.

Paula Everett lives next door and knows the homeowner well.

"She's just in shock, all over the place, trying to figure out what to do next," Everett said.

Homes within one block of the explosion were evacuated temporarily as a precaution after the blast. Gas and electric services had been restored to most homes in the area, with a few still without service.

Morgan Park Explosion
Crews work to extinguish a fire after a home exploded from an apparent natural gas leak in Morgan Park on Monday. (Credit: CBS)

Block and McNicholas said it has not yet been determined what sparked the fire, or whether the boiler fire at 2142 W. 107th Pl. was directly related to the explosion at 2148 W. 107th Pl.

"The entire situation is under investigation," McNicholas said.

Peoples Gas issued this statement about the explosion saying, "A third party caused damage to Peoples' Gas' natural gas infrastructure outside. The damage resulted in natural gas igniting an explosion and fire to the residence. Peoples Gas has secured the gas lines in the area resulting in the temporary disruption in service to about 15 homes in the area."


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