Man’s body found after house explosion near Lake Zurich

Authorities said it could take weeks, or even months, before they know what caused a house near Lake Zurich to explode Tuesday evening, leaving one man dead.

The body of the man was recovered in the rubble of the house after firefighters spent several hours battling the blaze that erupted following the explosion.

Emergency workers were called to the 23500 block of North Overhill Road at about 8:30 p.m. after multiple reports of the explosion.

Authorities could not account for the 77-year-old man who lived in the home, but believe it is likely his body was the one recovered. Lake County investigators said there is no reason to believe the explosion was “criminal in nature.”

An autopsy indicated the man died from injuries consistent with “inhalation of products of combustion,” according to a news release from Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek. However, positive identification will take more time as additional forensic analysis of dental records and DNA samples is necessary. Toxicology testing for carbon monoxide also is pending.

Firefighters work the scene Tuesday of a home explosion near Lake Zurich. First responders found the home leveled after an explosion about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday according to the Lake County sheriff's office. Associated Press/Michael Wright

The house was leveled by the explosion, authorities said.

“It hampered our efforts that the natural gas was free-flowing and burning at the front corner of the house,” Lake Zurich Fire Chief David Pilgard said of the firefighters’ initial attack on the blaze.

Wheeling Police Chief James Dunne lives two blocks away from the site of the explosion and initially thought it was lightning.

  Officials investigate the scene Wednesday morning of a house explosion on the 23500 block of North Overhill Road near Lake Zurich. Paul Valade/

“I was sitting there watching the Cubs rain delay and I thought it was a bolt of lightning or something because it was very loud and the whole house shook,” he said. “I went out back at first and didn’t see anything and then went to the front and saw smoke coming from the house behind the next street over.”

Dunne said the whole house was almost immediately engulfed in flames following the explosion.

  A vehicle was incinerated Tuesday when a house in the 23500 block of North Overhill Road near Lake Zurich exploded. One person was found dead inside the house, authorities say. Paul Valade/

“Everybody was forced to stay back because the flames were just everywhere,” Dunne said.

The body of a man has been recovered from the rubble of a house near Lake Zurich that was leveled by an explosion late Tuesday. Courtesy of James Dunne

Dunne hadn’t noticed any utility work being done in the area that day and had no recollection of natural gas smells in the area before the explosion.

Neighbor Erinn McBride’s home had windows blown out as well as some siding damage.

“My daughters and I were in the house. We heard a loud boom. My son was outside playing so I told the girls to go check on him, I thought a tree fell,” she said. “I went upstairs to see, and then came outside and it was chaos. All the neighbors came out and were trying to get in and save the man. You couldn’t. There was no way to get close.”

Authorities reported no other injuries from the blast.

· Daily Herald staff writer Paul Valade contributed to this report.

  Authorities say it could be weeks or even months before they determine what caused this home near Lake Zurich to explode. Paul Valade/
  Investigators look through the rubble Wednesday morning after an explosion destroyed a home near Lake Zurich and killed a person inside. Paul Valade/
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