Berwyn fire, explosion at MacNeal Hospital building caused by gas leak, officials say

BERWYN, Ill. (WLS) -- A building in Berwyn exploded and caught fire Tuesday afternoon due to a gas leak, the Berwyn Fire Department said.

Fire officials said they responded to the scene shortly after 2 p.m. for a report of an explosion in the 3300-block of Oak Park Avenue. MacNeal Hospital officials confirmed the building is leased by them, and is currently empty.

"Out of nowhere we heard a loud boom and the house kind of shook a little," said KK Garcia, lives nearby.

"It was almost like a mini earthquake," said Nicole Garcia. "I thought a train derailed."

When firefighters arrived they found a damaged building. They were told three people walked across the street to MacNeal Hospital for treatment of very minor injuries, fire officials said. All of them had been released by Tuesday night.

KK and Nicole, who are sisters, evacuated their building with their father, and saw the aftermath.

"We went on the roof to look back there and there was a bunch of smoke. All the glass blown out the building, the bricks off the building," Nicole said.

"The whole building was just completely destroyed. The bricks were on the floor. The glass was on the floor," said KK.

The explosion was accidental, fire officials said. Nicor Gas said there was a third-party contractor doing work in the area which damaged a service line, and fire officials are looking into whether it played a role in the leak and explosions.

"It turns out somebody was doing some coring right here on Oak Park Avenue. We're still looking into exactly what happened and who was working," said Berwyn Fire Chief Tom Hayes.

Nicor Gas and ComEd had to shut off gas and power as fire fighters worked to contain the flames and the leak.

Fire officials said the building is a total loss and will have to be torn down.
MacNeal Hospital officials said no employees were injured and the explosion has not interrupted any patient care.
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