At least eight people were injured Tuesday morning when an explosion tore through a residential building in the South Austin neighborhood of Chicago, authorities said.
The Chicago Fire Department said eight people were taken to the hospital, three of whom were in serious condition after an explosion caused a “mass casualty” event at an apartment building at the 5600 block of West West End Avenue, WGN-TV reported.
“This is a confirmed explosion but source of explosion not known,” the fire department said.
Officials said that several residents of the building were displaced. Additionally, the building next door was evacuated. Deputy Fire Commissioner Marc Ferman told reporters 10 ambulance vehicles were sent to the scene to respond to the collapsed building.
Several witnesses described hearing a sound like a bomb went off at around 9:00 a.m. They said the building shook with the force of the blast.
“I was asleep, and all of a sudden there was a loud booming,” building resident Lawrence Lewis told WGN. “I woke up to my windows gone, my front door blown open. I just saw smoke, and I ran out of the house. I was asleep. I’m shook up right now.”
Otis Manning, a resident of the building across the street, told the Chicago Sun-Times he was getting ready for work when the explosion destroyed the top floor of the neighboring structure.
“All of a sudden, I hear boom,” he said. “My heart almost shot out of my body. I saw windows busted open, I saw debris.”
Other witnesses who had left the building not long before the explosion reported a strange smell in the hallway.
People’s Gas told WGN there is no reason to believe it was a gas explosion. The fire department has not determined the cause of the blast and is still investigating.
“Our first concern is the health, well-being and safety of our residents,” building owner Roman Viere said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to cooperate with emergency services, and we are ready to do whatever we can to support our residents.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued the following statement:
“I am closely monitoring the events and both the Chicago Fire Department and the Department of Buildings are onsite at the collapse. We will provide updates as the situation develops. 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.”
No further information has been provided.