3 dead, 39 homes damaged after explosion in Evansville, Indiana

The scene is 'devastating,' mayor says
Originally Published: 10 AUG 22 17:18 ET
Updated: 11 AUG 22 09:20 ET

(CNN) — Three people have died and at least 39 homes were damaged after an explosion in Evansville, Indiana, the city’s fire chief said Wednesday in a news conference.

“There could be other victims; we have not completed our search,” Chief Mike Connelly said. “The buildings are not yet safe to enter.”

An investigation into the incident and what caused the explosion is underway, Connelly added.

The scene is “devastating,” and it will likely take a while to figure out what happened, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke told CNN affiliate WFIE.

An initial survey showed 39 houses suffered “severe to minor damage,” the chief added. Eleven homes were left uninhabitable, he said, adding the American Red Cross will help affected families. Evansville, home to about 116,000 people, is about a three-hours’ drive southwest of Indianapolis.

Destroyed and damaged homes and piles of debris featured in photos posted on Twitter by the mayor, who said first responders and local departments will “keep residents in the Willemette Village/Wesselman Park neighborhoods safe and informed.”

“I’d seen photos that have been placed online, but once I walked up to the residence itself and saw the devastation with my own eyes, it was, I mean, it was a gut punch,” Winnecke said.

“Across the street from the explosion you’ll see house after house that has windows blown out, that has you know there’s insulation blown out from homes,” the mayor added.

A structural collapse team was called in to survey buildings and to make sure all gas and electric circuits “had integrity,” the chief said. At least eight agencies responded, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the State Fire Marshal.

“They will resume the investigation in the morning,” the chief said Wednesday evening. “This is a standard operating procedure for an incident of this magnitude and of this type.”

Search and rescue teams will be allowed back into the area once utilities are secured and the ATF determines its part of the investigation is over, Connelly said.

Authorities asked residents to stay away from the area.

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