Evansville, Ind. — A house explosion on Wednesday killed at least three people, damaged dozens of homes and rendered some of them uninhabitable, an official said.
Evansville Fire Department Chief Mike Connelly said the blast had a 100-foot blast radius and damaged about 40 homes, including at least 11 that were deemed “uninhabitable.” It is not yet known what caused this.
The explosion, which was reported just before 1 p.m., appears to have destroyed the home where it happened, according to a photo posted on social media by Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winneke.
Nearby homes sustained extensive damage and residential streets were littered with debris. Police cordoned off nearby roads.
The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office confirmed Wednesday afternoon that three people had died. Connelly said the search for the victim is not over and “there may be other victims.”
“We have received reports of three deaths resulting from the explosion on North Weinbach Avenue,” the office said in an emailed statement.
Earlier Wednesday, Evansville Police Department spokesman Sgt. Anna Gray said two people were injured in the explosion. He said the third hit was in the house next door. The fire department did not confirm whether all the homes were empty at the time of the explosion because “some were too volatile to get inside.”
Jasmine Vickers, who works at a childcare center about four blocks away from the blast, said the children were sleeping when the noise was heard and surprisingly, one of them woke up.
“But the building shook, and we looked out and saw everybody running,” he said.
He said he woke everyone up and immediately evacuated the building.
Leslie Lawrence, who works for a trophy store, said of the explosion, “Everybody jumped. We thought a tree had fallen on us, or a car had crashed into the building.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was on the scene Wednesday afternoon investigating.
In a Twitter post, Wieneke said the local Red Cross chapter was providing food and water at the scene and would assist those “in need of shelter.”