Explosion destroys house in Oak Forest

A house burned to the ground as the result of an explosion in south suburban unincorporated Oak Forest Friday.

An explosion occurred just before 4 p.m. in the 16300-block of Kedvale Avenue, officials said. The Markham Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Duffy said that while that area is technically in Oak Forest, the Markham Fire Department was first on the scene.

People nearby reported they heard what sounded like explosions and then saw a fire in the home.

"Windows are blown out in this house, the screens are out in my house, so it was devastating for sure," said Dave Polak, neighbor.

Fire officials said two Markham firefighters were inside the home checking on the report of a fire and were briefly trapped. They were taken to a local hospital to be checked out and were released.

A neighbor said officers were on the block warning residents shortly before the trouble began.

"When I was getting ready to go out of town, I was just hopping in the pickup when the officers came over and said, 'You gotta get out of here, there's hazardous materials, this place might explode.' I said, 'Okay," and I was just getting ready to get in the pickup and there it went," said Don Chrisman, neighbor.

The brick home was completely consumed by fire and has burned to the ground, with only one wall remaining standing.
The cause of both the explosion and fire are under investigation, though officials said that the homeowner did indicate there was ammunition in the house and there are propane tanks on the property. They did not confirm reports that fireworks may have been in the home.

A house just to the south suffered some damage as well.

The homeowner spoke officials, but declined to comment on the incident. His relatives said they're relieved.

"He's alive. He didn't get hurt. His wife didn't get hurt. The kids didn't get hurt," said John Starostka, homeowner's brother.

He said his brother works in construction and built the home himself.

"Whatever he had in there is all gone. He had a brand new Corvette. He had a motorcycle in the garage," he said.

The homeowner apparently had several pets, and unfortunately they did not make it out alive. At least one other home next door sustained serious damage, but there's relief that nobody on the block was hurt. null
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