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Oak Lawn home lost in fiery explosion

House ExplosiFire 8904 S. 55th Ct. Oak Lawn Saturday January 11 2014. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media

House Explosion and Fire at 8904 S. 55th Ct. in Oak Lawn Saturday, January, 11, 2014. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 13, 2014 6:55AM



An early morning home explosion rocked a quiet Oak Lawn neighborhood, destroying a residence and damaging nearby houses. No one was in the home at the time of the blaze and there were no injuries, officials said.

Oak Lawn police were called to the house at 8904 S. 55th Court about 2 a.m., three hours before the fire, and intervened in a verbal disagreement, according to a press release. A wife and children left for the night with friends, while a male resident stayed at the home, the release said.

Firefighters were on the scene shortly after 5 a.m. The male resident was found uninjured outside the house, according to the release.

The force of the explosion was so great, bricks were scattered around the yard, walls were blown out, the front wall buckled out and houses on either side sustained damage.

“The house is a total loss,” Oak Lawn Fire Battalion Chief John Hojek said.

A home to the south suffered only broken windows, but a home to the north — one the owner is trying to sell — had about $10,000 in damage, Hojek said.

Firefighters were “met with heavy fire load” when they arrived on the scene, Hojek said. “We went defensive and went to a box alarm level.”

Shortly after 9 a.m., Mitchell Kushner, an investigator with the state fire marshal’s office, was on the scene with Zoe, a dog trained to sniff out accelerants.

Police were speaking with a resident of the house, and the fire still was under investigation, according to the release.

Hojek said he saw police place a man in handcuffs on the home’s driveway.

Anthony Lewis, who lives about a block to the south, said he did not hear an explosion but was amazed by the fire.

“As soon as I walked to the sidewalk outside my house, I could see the flames shooting out toward the street. It was totally engulfed. (Firefighters) were shooting water down from the ladder, too,” said Lewis, 28.

“I thought maybe it was a gas explosion,” Lewis said.

The man whose house is north of the blast site has a “for sale” sign in his yard, a task that he said may be delayed after he makes repairs to the house. He requested his name not be used.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire



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