Home Explosion Update: No Additional Victims Will Be Found, Reports City Fire Chief
Cause of blast still unknown; leveled one house, damaged 39 others
Evansville emergency authorities are gradually releasing information at the home explosion Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 1010 N. Weinbach Ave.
As of Thursday at 11 a.m., Evansville Fire Chief Michael Connelly said through searching the debris, there will be no additional victims of the explosion, and no animals perished.
"This is a tedious operation and evidence gathered must be protected," he said. "So we're moving with caution as we move go forward with the collection of evidence and removal of debris."
There are 39 homes damaged by the explosion and 11 are uninhabitable, according to Connelly.
He said the Red Cross on scene assisted 15 families the evening of Aug. 10.
North Weinbach Ave. is still close, and likely will be for all of Thursday.
While there is police tape surrounding the destroyed home and the nearby block, he said the restricted area will shrink as the grounds are vetted for safety.
Previous reports follow
Initially, Fire Chief Michael Connelly reported three were injured and transported to a local hospital for care. Later, it was announced all three had perished. At his 5 p.m. Wednesday update, Connelly said there is a 4th victim in the hospital.
He said there are about 39 damaged structures surrounding the explosion. “There's debris in a radius of over 100 feet and damage to multiple surrounding structures,” he said, adding that the Evansville Building Commission is inspecting surrounding structures for safety, and that CenterPoint Energy responded “immediately to the notification of the house explosion,” he said. “They made the area safe. There were no readings on their detectors, and the last time they were at the address of 1010. North Weinbach was in January 2018.”
The explosion happened just after 1:00 Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters from nearby Fire Station 4 on Oak Hill Road first notified Central Dispatch of the blast.
They headed to the scene and asked for more units and eventually, a second alarm was dispatched.Three AMR ambulances were initially called to the scene and some victims were taken to Deaconess Midtown Hospital.
The Evansville police department formed a perimeter around the scene of the explosion, stopping vehicle and pedestrian traffic several blocks away with Police and fire personnel at every corner.
At the intersection of Weinbach and Columbia Street nearby resident Seth Phillips shared his experience with the explosion with local media.
“Whenever it first went off, we saw just up just a puff of smoke,” he said. “And I mean, it wasn't around, but for more than 30 seconds, it was that small puff of smoke, and then just debris just raining from the sky just falling down.”
Phillips said he was home so he could escort his child on the first day of school. He said the nearby fire station was first to respond.
“I heard both their engines go and take off. And then from then it was I heard, you know, police sirens immediately after I heard more fire sirens. I heard EMS. I heard just I mean for about 10 minutes. It was just constant sirens just flying down the road from what I could hear.”
The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) reportred that students and staff at nearby Vogel School were safe, but their dismissal plan would be affected by the incident.
Radio traffic from Central Dispatch indicated CenterPoint Energy was aware of a potential problem in the area before the explosion. It’s not clear if they were investigating a natural gas leak.
The scene is just a few blocks from a 2017 house explosion in the 1700 block of N. Hercules Ave. Two people died in that blast.