EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Three people died and 39 homes were damaged in a Wednesday afternoon explosion of a house, authorities say.
The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office has confirmed the deaths and was trying to reach their next of kin.
The explosion happened shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday in the 1000 block of North Weinbach Avenue. That’s southeast of the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 62.
Of the three people who died, two were in the house that exploded. The other person was in a neighboring home. The people suffered blunt force trauma, Evansville Fire Chief Mike Connelly said. One other person was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Connelly said Wednesday that the damage to the 39 homes ranges from severe to minor. Of those, 11 homes are uninhabitable and will have to be demolished. Connelly expected some residents of the neighborhood may be unable to return to their homes this week. The American Red Cross will assist the people from the 11 uninhabitable homes.
The fire chief told reporters Thursday morning that crews had not completed thorough searches of the homes due to the instability of the structures.
The cause of the explosion was not known. Finding a cause will likely be a “very tedious process — and lengthy,” Connelly said Thursday.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been called in to survey the blast damage.
ATF and the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office will begin an investigation on Thursday.
“Our thoughts are with those closely involved with the explosion that happened on N. Weinbach this afternoon.
“As more information becomes available the respective agencies investigating will be able to provide more information.
“N. Weinbach between Columbia and Oak Hill will be shut down for the foreseeable future, please plan an alternate route.
“If anyone has footage of the incident, please forward a copy of the video to our Detectives Unit at email@example.com.”
Evansville Police Department on social media
“With Evansville Fire Department, Evansville Police Department, Evansville / Vanderburgh County Emergency Management Agency, AMR and Building Commission on North Weinbach Avenue. Our first responders and city departments will continue to keep residents in the Willemette Village/Wesselman Park neighborhoods safe and informed.”
“Just spoke with Knight Township Trustee Kathryn Martin. The Knight Township Trustee’s Office (1116 N Weinbach Ave) will be closed for the foreseeable future due to damage.”
Mayor Lloyd Winnecke on social media
“There has been a house explosion a few blocks from Vogel Elementary. Thankfully, all students and staff are safe. We are working closely with EPD & EFD. Many streets in the area are closed. This may possibly impact/delay bus routes for many schools whose buses run nearby routes.”
Evansville school district on social media
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of those killed and to those injured or displaced during this devastating explosion.”
Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch
The Associated Press contributed to this story.