Residents displaced after Frankfort explosion

September 8, 2008 2:26:05 PM PDT
Some people forced from their homes by an explosion will not be returning anytime soon.The blast Saturday killed an elderly couple, destroyed their house and damaged several others.

The cause of the explosion was still under investigation late Sunday night. Gas was shut off to approximately 30 homes in the area.

Still, the Frankfort fire chief said it appeared to be a natural gas explosion. The village of Frankfort has put together a task force to determine exactly what happened.

In the meantime, many were remembering the elderly couple who were married for 67 years and raised their children in Frankfort.

While the clean-up efforts were well under way and the shock of the explosion began to wear off, many in the southwest suburban town couldn't stop thinking about Clyde and Luella Reils. Lost in the pile of debris that was once their ranch home sat a bouquet of fresh flowers Sunday.

"The Reils were wonderful people, and they were just delightful; grandparents to all of us, in a sense, very well known in the community. They lived her most of their lives," said Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland.

"They would give the shirt off their backs. He would fix all the neighbors' lawnmowers. And, if you were in trouble, they were right there. [They were] the nicest couple," resident Francis Schroeder said.

The explosion was personal for Schroeder because she owned the home where the Reils lived for more than 30 years. Although Schroeder sold it a while back, Clyde, 89, and 87-year-old Luella had just moved in six months ago from a house across the street.

"They moved there because they couldn't climb stairs. So, that was the ideal place for them, but it's all gone now," said Schroeder.

Early Saturday morning, the house exploded, and residents living several blocks away felt the blast.

"I was sleeping soundly and woke up from the boom. My bed shook at 5:30 in the morning," neighbor Gail Tropeck said.

No one felt the explosion more than the Reils' closest neighbors. The damage to several homes on Sycamore Lane was extensive, and eight families remained displaced Sunday night.

"We've got a number of things [wrong] with our house. So, we're going to be out of here for sometime," said Joe Bella.

"We are going to work with the community and the mayor's office and my office to make sure we get the citizens back on their feet and moving forward again," said Frankfort Fire Chief Jim Grady.

After a day of home inspections, Nicor gas company says there are now 11 homes that are inhabitable.

Clyde and Luella Reils were very involved in the community, as well as with their church. Mr. Reils had been a volunteer Frankfort firefighter and a former Frankfort trustee. Mrs. Reils was a retired bank teller.


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