House Explosion Kills Three, Devastates Neighborhood Blocks From School

A house explosion ripped through a residential area of Evansville, Indiana, leaving three dead and sending debris flying as authorities look for more injured nearby.

The explosion occurred shortly before 1 p.m. local time on Wednesday and destroyed multiple homes near Vogel Elementary School, according to local media reports. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been brought in to investigate the cause of the blast that damaged numerous homes in the southern Indiana city, according to local authorities.

Evansville Fire Department Chief Mike Connelly told the Evansville Courier & Press that the removal of debris and search for additional victims was temporarily halted while the ATF runs a "blast analysis."

"There could be other victims," he told the paper Wednesday evening. "We have not yet completed our search."

The city's Fire Department told Newsweek in a press statement that another victim was transported to the hospital for injuries. The cause of the explosion has not been determined, and police are asking the public for videos of the blast, according to the department.

CenterPoint Energy arrived at the scene following the explosion to survey for natural gas and had no instrument readings, the fire department stated.

Security camera video obtained by NBC affiliate WFIE shows the explosion launching debris into the air and sending up a brown cloud.

Fire department officials told the station that another person was hospitalized by the explosion with unspecified injuries. Onlookers described the horror of the sudden explosion and its aftermath.

Vincent Taylor told the station he was working on a roof two blocks away when he heard the blast and saw debris fall from the sky.

Ambulance in Brooklyn
An unexplained explosion in Evansville, Indiana, killed three and left multiple homes damaged. Above, an ambulance approaches the entrance to the Brooklyn Hospital Center on April 23, 2020, in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

"Total devastation; it was bad," Taylor said. "I looked over and saw the guy in the grass, and it looked bad. But a lot of people lost everything down here. Their houses are totally gone."

WEVV-TV obtained video from resident Drew Slader showing how the blast had dislodged shelves in his kitchen and blown open the doors to cabinets and his refrigerator. Slader told the station he was knocked off the couch by the force of the blast.

The station's aerial footage of the blast area shows much of an entire block reduced to rubble.

Connelly told the Courier & Press that while an evacuation of the neighborhood was unnecessary, at least 11 of the area's 39 damaged homes are "uninhabitable."

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said in a tweet that the local Red Cross was standing by to offer shelter for those in need while offering water and snacks to first responders.

Students and staff at nearby Vogel Elementary School were safe following the house explosion just a few blocks away, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation said in a tweet. But the corporation noted that streets were closed in the area, impacting its dismissal plans.

This story has been updated with additional comment from the Evansville Fire Department.