Officials to demolish Skokie house after explosion

December 12, 2011 8:38:32 PM PST
One man was injured in a blast Monday that blew out the front of a two-story building in Skokie and touched off a fire.

The 59-year-old man was injured by flying debris and remained hospitalized Monday evening. The explosion happened around 9 a.m. Monday on N. Kimball Avenue.

Fire officials were still on the site of a the house explosion Monday evening, securing the area so they can tear it down Tuesday.

"We are going to secure it overnight and then start dismantling and they want to get an idea of what actually happened, what caused the explosion, so rather than just pushing it into a big pile we're going to try to take it down slowly tomorrow," said Skokie Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Walters.

The entire front of the house was blown out by the explosion. Next door, Katie Thomas was pulling up to the building to pick up her niece for school.

"I heard this big boom, and I looked up and I saw the side of the building crack - I saw the window blow up," said Thomas. "I looked up and saw this big old black smoke and I panicked."

"It looked like a war zone, the whole front of the facade of the building was blown out and it really cleared everything inside," said business owner Dan Hechtman.

Emergency responders arrived on the scene within minutes. Fortunately, the building was vacant, in the process of being renovated. Firefighters found the injured man lying on the front lawn.

"He was walking up to the building, he was related to the building, and from what we've ascertained, that's when it exploded and he got hit with the bricks," said Walters. "He was here to do some work on the exterior of the structure."

The family living next door was temporarily displaced until the fire department could determine that there was no damage to that building. Those residents were back in their homes Monday night.

One of the temporarily displaced residents, Minnie Pierce, says that was a minor inconvenience.

"When I saw the fire blazing, and we ran out and then I saw the side of the building crack, I just began to thank God that we got out and it didn't come forward and didn't do damage to where we were standing and the windows didn't shatter, because if so, we would have been hurt," said Pierce.

The Fire Department said they hope to find the cause of the explosion in the process of the demolition, which is set to begin on Tuesday.

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