Drone photos show destruction to Marengo homes after explosion
Two people were injured and 50 homes damaged Sunday morning after a fiery house explosion in Marengo, authorities said.
Fire crews arrived about 4:50 a.m. to the 500 block of 7th Circle, where four homes were on fire following the blast that affected dozens of other nearby homes, Marengo officials said in a news release.
Residents of the house that exploded weren't home at the time, Fire Chief Bob Bradbury said. Two people in a neighboring house that caught fire were rescued from the second floor by a battalion chief and a civilian, he said. They were taken with minor burns to Centegra Hospital-Woodstock and have since been released.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion, which appears to be accidental, Bradbury said. The blast left about 18 houses uninhabitable and sent debris flying throughout the neighborhood, he said.
"We've never had anything to this magnitude," Bradbury said, noting several houses were knocked off their foundations.
Marengo resident Kelly Dowda says she was startled awake by a loud bang that rattled her home and knocked all her pictures off the wall. She heard people outside screaming, and when she opened her back door, she saw heavy fire and smoke coming from just a street over.
As Dowda and her husband walked toward the scene, they noticed houses with damaged screens, garages, windows and walls. Across the street from the explosion, she said, the entire front of a house appeared to have caved in.
Eighteen fire departments and other agencies responded to the scene, officials said. The fire was under control within 45 minutes, Bradbury said, though crews remained on the scene for hours.
Displaced residents and their pets were taken to Marengo High School at 110 Franks Road, which is serving as a cooling station. The Marengo community and organizations such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross also came together Sunday to help those affected by the explosion.
Hundreds of people joined a Facebook group created by resident Nicole Laegeler to organize and inform community members of donation drop-off sites, events and other relief efforts. Clothing, toiletries, money, toys and household items were being collected by various churches and organizations, and some businesses were offering to donate their services.
Jennifer Sells Olster, who is helping to manage the page, lives a few blocks away and is close friends with the family whose home exploded.
"But honestly, even if I didn't know any of them, I would help if I could," she said. "We live in a small town, and we all try to be there for one another as best we can."
Roughly 136 ComEd customers lost power, and many homes were also without water and gas after the explosion, residents and authorities said. Building inspectors from McHenry County and other surrounding municipalities are conducting assessments on the damaged properties.
Authorities are warning of solicitors who have been going door-to-door offering home repairs.
"Residents should be aware that after incidents such as this one, many scammers use this as an opportunity to take advantage of residents," the McHenry County Emergency Management Agency says, noting permits are not being issued for solicitors in Marengo at this time.
Anyone whose house was damaged is asked to contact the city of Marengo at email@example.com or (815) 703-9707.