The community has raised almost $50,000 for residents after 22 people were displaced and 20 buildings were damaged in Woodstock following an explosion earlier this week.
A gas leak was reported by a city employee around 12:30 p.m. Monday in the area of Tryon Street and Lincoln Avenue in Woodstock.
The Woodstock Fire/Rescue District and Woodstock Police Department were notified.
City officials said 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.
Vucha said investigators from the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District and Woodstock Police Department met early Tuesday morning and began documenting all of the structures impacted by the blast.
A total of 20 structures sustained varying degrees of damage.
Two homes and a detached garage are considered a complete loss, Vucha said. Two additional homes are structurally uninhabitable.
The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was activated to the second alarm level and later upgraded to the fourth alarm level. Over 20 fire departments responded to the call.
A total of 22 individuals were displaced with many seeking assistance from the American Red Cross.
Two family dogs were in critical condition at a local veterinary clinic. A cat remains missing from one of the homes.
Two firefighters were transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, Vucha said. No fatalities were reported.
City officials said the gas leak was contained around 3:30 p.m. after Nicor Gas shut off the gas to the area.
“These are events we train and prepare for but hope we never encounter. Again, the District greatly appreciates the assistance from the countless agencies that took part in the incident,” Vucha said.
“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.
Firefighters were on the scene for almost 24 hours. They worked throughout the night extinguishing residual hot spots and hidden fires before leaving shortly before 12 p.m. Tuesday.
Pedestrian traffic was reopened on both Tryon Street and Lincoln Street early Tuesday afternoon.
As of Sunday, the community has raised over $46,000 through GoFundMe accounts to help residents impacted by the incident.
Monica and Edwing Diaz, who are teachers, will not be able to reside at their home for months. The couple, who has lived in their house for over 14 years, has four girls.
A fundraiser has collected almost $8,000 for the Diaz family.
Married couple Benjamin Bosowski and Savannah Kies “lost everything” in the blast.
A longtime friend of Kies said the woman’s sister died in 2016 and she has lost many important people since. “She is the most loving and giving person I have ever known,” Carlee Schultz said.
Fundraisers to help Bosowski and Kies pay veterinarian bills for their injured dogs and to help with other expenses have raised almost $25,000.
Jenny Charles said her neighbors, the Naber family, were in their home when the explosion occurred. The family’s house was “hit hard” and is uninhabitable.
“Having all of these families displaced has left a big hole in our tiny corner of this amazing community. We cannot wait till we can all be together again,” Charles said.
A fundraiser for the Naber family has raised over $5,500.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation by the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District, Woodstock Police Department and Nicor Gas Company.