House explodes in far south suburban Manhattan

July 19, 2012 (MANHATTAN, Ill.)

The explosion happened in the 25800-block of Redstone in suburban Manhattan.

The 53-year-old homeowner told rescuers that she was in an upstairs bedroom, getting dressed, when her house suddenly exploded. She was taken to an area hospital for observation. No one else was injured.

"The wall was completely gone," said rescuer Bob Rust. "She walked over to me. I picked her up and set her on the ground."

Rust described how he helped a woman, who was home alone, to safety after an explosion leveled her suburban Manhattan residence.

"He picked her up. She was on the second floor, which had collapsed to the first floor, then we walked down to the street," said witness Dan Michalak.

Landscapers were working in the neighborhood Thursday morning when the blast occurred at the Redstone Drive address. It happened at 10:47 a.m. in unincorporated Will County -- about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.

"She told me she was the only one inside the home," said Manhattan Fire Protection District Chief Dan Forsythe. "She also told me she didn't smell any gases or hear any things going wrong with equipment inside the house."

There are no fire hydrants in the area, so about a dozen other fire districts rushed to the scene with tankers full of water to help firefighters put out the flames and hot spots.

The victim's husband returned to what was once his home to talk to authorities as they try to figure out what caused the destruction.

The Will County Sheriff's Office says that all homes in the neighborhood use propane tanks for cooking and heating.

"At this time, (the explosion is) under investigation," said Illinois State Fire Marshal Kevin Smith. "When we get some information we will let you guys know."

So far, nothing is being ruled out, as many in Manhattan realize it could have worse.

"There's nothing left," said area resident Mary Cozzi. "It's just amazing, just amazing."

Investigators were still on the scene late Thursday afternoon trying to figure out what caused the house to blow up.

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