Authorities say two firefighters were injured after a gas leak caused a fire and explosion that damaged at least 10 buildings, including a house that was leveled, in Woodstock.
The Woodstock City Manager’s office was notified around 12:30 p.m. Monday by a city employee of a gas leak in the area of Tryon Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Woodstock City Manager Roscoe Stelford and his staff contacted Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Chief Brendan Parker and Woodstock Police Chief John Lieb to advise them of the report.
Emergency crews were dispatched to assess the situation. Nicor Gas was called out and arrived on the scene approximately 30 minutes later.
Woodstock Fire/Rescue District Communication Specialist Alex Vucha said it was determined a contract crew working in the area had stuck a two-inch gas main inside a sewer line.
Tryon Street was shut down from Judd Street to Washington Street. Lincoln Avenue was shut down at Dacy Street.
Residents and businesses in the immediate area were notified. St. Mary Church and School across the street from the scene was evacuated.
While fire crews were standing by at the scene for Nicor to fix the leak, an explosion occurred on Lincoln Avenue and a fire broke out.
A two-story house was completely destroyed by the explosion and a second adjacent house sustained significant damage from the fire in the 200 block of Lincoln Avenue, officials said.
The damaged homes are located directly across the street from St. Mary Church and School.
The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was activated to the second alarm level and later upgraded to the fourth alarm level for numerous fire departments to respond to assist.
Two firefighters were transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, Vucha said. No fatalities were reported.
“While the damage is still being assessed at least 10 structures were damaged in the blast, including a church and school,” Vucha said.
City officials said the gas leak was contained around 3:30 p.m. after Nicor Gas shut off the gas to the area.
“We’re on the square working and it shook the entire building and knocked stuff down. Felt like the windows were going to break. Absolutely insane. I smelled gas around 10 am this morning,” one person told Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
Residents in the area were asked to check with the fire department gas company before re-entering their homes to ensure they were safe.
Some homes in the area will be without gas or electricity.
The American Red Cross is assisting residents who have been displaced and District 200 has sent communications out to students and families offering their social worker resources.
Woodstock Mayor Mike Turner was on the scene after crews had the fire contained.
“I have so much respect for the quick response, professionalism and bravery of the Woodstock Fire/Rescue Crews and Woodstock Police Department. This horrible tragedy shook the downtown community today and thankfully we have not been made aware of any casualties or injuries at this time,” Turner said.
“I am very appreciative of the collaborative spirit shown to our community by neighboring Fire/Rescue districts, Police departments, local not for profit organizations, and our D200 Community School District. People coming together in a time of crisis like this is heartwarming,” Turner added.
Families who have been impacted by the incident can contact the City Manager’s office for help at 815-338-4301.