MARENGO – A Marengo home exploded; the blast also destroyed a neighboring home, left eight to 10 more houses uninhabitable and sent two people to the hospital about 5 a.m. Sunday.
Marengo Fire Chief Bob Bradbury said at least 30 additional homes in the neighborhood were affected by debris. A damage estimate wasn’t immediately available.
“We haven’t grasped that,” Bradbury said. “We have a crew of building inspectors going around right now looking at the damages.”
The owners of the home that exploded weren’t inside at the time of the incident, but there were animals inside, Bradbury said.
The cause of the explosion is under investigation. Foul play isn’t suspected at this time, he said. Two people were taken to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock with minor injuries.
ComEd said that 136 customers were affected by the explosion. Power had been restored to nearly all customers by Sunday evening.
William Trecker of Marengo said he awoke in his home near 7th Avenue and East Street suddenly about 4:40 a.m. Sunday, only a few houses down from where the fire reportedly started with what sounded like an explosion.
“It was a huge explosion, I thought somebody hit the house,” Trecker said. “Somebody told me to call 911, so I called 911. Some smoke started coming up and the house was completely engulfed. I saw three houses come down.”
As the temperature climbed into the 90s, the superintendent opened Marengo High School to those displaced by the explosion and fires. The McHenry County Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross were there to help. The high school also served as a pet-friendly cooling station.
“The explosion that rocked Marengo early this morning damaged more than 50 homes and has left more than a dozen homes uninhabitable, with hundreds of our neighbors without power and in need of assistance. Our community is extremely fortunate, however, that there was no loss of life,” McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said in a statement. “The McHenry County government has been coordinating closely with officials from the city of Marengo, the Marengo Fire Protection District and the Marengo Rescue Squad. Currently, McHenry County building inspectors are assisting in the inspection of damaged homes, with the McHenry County Emergency Management Agency helping coordinate relief measures through the Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois.
“McHenry County stands ready to provide whatever additional assistance we can.”
Mike Barry of the 400 block of 7th Avenue said the window on the east side of his home blew out completely and the home shook.
“I saw our neighbors gathering,” Barry said. “I saw a huge plume of smoke. I thought it was an air crash. I thought a plane went down.”
Trecker said doors and windows in nearby homes were blown out, and that he was told by authorities to evacuate his home.
“Our walls are all cracked throughout the house,” Trecker said.
Displaced residents were asked to contact the city of Marengo at email@example.com or 815-703-9707 to provide their names, address and phone number.
Marengo police warned that solicitors have been going door-to-door for home repair. Soliciting in Marengo requires a permit, and “at this time no permits are being issued,” according to the alert.
This is a developing story. Stick with the Northwest Herald for more as it develops.