Oak Park gas explosion, fire injures 1; building partially collapses, village officials say

ByCate Cauguiran and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, July 27, 2023
1 seriously injured in Oak Park building explosion
An Oak Park explosion and fire left one person injured, village officials said. Fire officials believe it was a natural gas explosion.

OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Oak Park village officials said a person was injured after a natural gas explosion and fire Wednesday.

Village officials said Oak Park firefighters and police responded to the 200-block of South Maple Street for a fire with "collapsed sections of wall" Wednesday afternoon. Additional support has been provided by 10 other jurisdiction.

Fire officials believe the fire was caused by a natural gas explosion, but the official cause remains under investigation. Nicor said it is working with investigators to find out what happened.

"All the streets were locked down, we couldn't get through," said Patricia Pulido, resident.

"The street was so black with smoke you couldn't see right in front of your face," said Ethan Colchamiro, resident. "I walked outside and I could see smoke coming out of the end of the build and eventually it started blazing, the trees lit on fire and then the wall of the building started crumbling."

Colchamiro was inside his home on Maple Avenue when he and his daughter felt the ground start to rumble. Pulido lives down the street and also heard the explosion.

"It was a very large boom, we were not that far, we thought it was thunder," she said.

Chopper7 was over the building, where walls and windows were visibly blown out. There also appeared to be damage to the building's entryway, and a hole in the roof possibly made by firefighters as they responded to the blaze, which appeared to be struck out. A large pile of debris and bricks was visible on the lawn next to the collapsed walls.

Twelve residents from the building's six units have been displaced by the incident and the building has been deemed uninhabitable.

One person was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in serious condition.

There were no further reports of injuries to residents or firefighters. The American Red Cross is assisting residents who have been displaced.

Oak Park fire officials said they will hand the investigation over to the state Fire Marshal Thursday morning, and that's when they anticipate neighbors will be able to return to their homes.