Mystery explosion that neighbors first thought was an ‘earthquake’ or ‘terrorist attack’ decimates top floor of Chicago apartment building

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At least eight people have been transported to area hospitals on the west side of Chicago following a building explosion Tuesday morning.

Several of the individuals are reportedly in critical condition and the Chicago Fire Department has requested 10 additional ambulances and is sending a mass casualty vehicle to the scene of the collapse.

Victim descriptions range from burns to ‘traumatic injuries,’ according to Deputy Fire Chief Marc Ferman. All of the victims are assumed to be adults.

A bomb squad and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are also on the scene.

The four-story red-brick building is located in South Austin, Chicago on West End Avenue. The explosion occurred shortly before 9.30am Central Time.

Buildings next door to the explosion site have also been evacuated.

Chicago emergency services responded Tuesday morning to an explosion in the South Austin neighborhood of the city after an explosion sent bricks flying from the top of a four-story apartment building
Rubble from the explosion littered the surrounding area
The Chicago Fire Department, as well as ATF agents and a bomb squad reported to the scene of the explosion
First responders work the scene after a building explosion caused injuries, scattered bricks and debris in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. September 20, 2022
Red bricks and rubble littered the area as neighboring buildings were also evacuated
A parked car is crushed by the bricks and debris from the explosion
Firetruck at the scene of the building explosion on the west side of Chicago on Tuesday morning
Fire fighters carry equipment at the scene of the Chicago explosion Tuesday morning

The owner of the damaged building, Roman Viere, said, ‘Our first concern is the health, well-being and safety of our residents. We are doing everything we can to cooperate with emergency services, and we are ready to do whatever we can to support our residents.’

It is not yet clear what caused the explosion.

Peoples Gas – a natural gas utility serving the city of Chicago – says there is no reason, of now, to believe the incident was caused by a natural gas explosion. Representatives of Peoples Gas and ComEd were both responding to the explosion.

There is reportedly no gas odor and no equipment issues at the scene of the explosion.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted, ‘My thoughts are with those who were injured and displaced in the building collapse in the Austin neighborhood. We must also thank the brave men and women of the Chicago Fire Department who are working to abate the dangerous conditions.’

Neighbors in surrounding buildings said they felt the quake of their entire apartment complex during the explosion.

‘I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and everything in the bathroom fell,’ said Brice Collier, 35, who lives across the street.

‘I thought it was an earthquake,’ he told the Chicago Sun Times.

Contradicting the account given by some members of the Fire Department and Peoples Gas, Shannon Nelson, 34, who lives with Collier said, ‘It felt like a terrorist attack,’ noting a very strong smell of gas.

‘It was so strong … your nose is burning.’

By 11.15am Central Time, emergency crews were conducting their final search of …


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