Woodstock explosion update: 22 people displaced, number of structures damaged now up to 20

People walk past the remains of homes in the 300 block of Lincoln Avenue on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, after an explosion following a gas leak in the area leveled one home as caused several fires.

Twenty structures in Woodstock were damaged and 22 people were displaced in Monday’s home explosion, officials announced Tuesday.

Two homes, including the one that exploded, have now been deemed complete losses, and two others are “structurally uninhabitable,” Woodstock Fire and Rescue District Communications Specialist Alex Vucha Tuesday said in an emailed update.

Vucha added that the fire department left the scene just before noon Tuesday after almost 24 hours on the scene. Pedestrian traffic reopened about 12:30 p.m., and ComEd and Nicor were working to restore service to the area.

The cause of the blast – which occurred about 2:35 p.m. Monday, about two hours after a crew working on sewer lines in the area near downtown struck a gas main and caused a leak – still was under investigation Tuesday.

The explosion shook buildings in downtown Woodstock, some of which had windows broken, and sent smoke billowing into the sky.

No one was injured in the blast, though authorities said two pet dogs were in critical condition Tuesday. Two firefighters were taken to local hospitals for minor injuries, officials said.

The Woodstock Public Library, which is near the blast site, was closed on Tuesday. The library shared in a Tuesday afternoon update that the building sustained minor damage during the home explosion, but that the city’s building inspector gave the OK to reopen Wednesday.

St. Mary Church, across the street from the home that exploded, shared in a Facebook post Tuesday that the church and school would be closed “until further notice.” Classes had been canceled Tuesday at the school, and school was not in session Monday when the explosion occurred because of Columbus Day.

The church also sustained damage: Some of the glass panes protecting stained glass windows were shattered, and shards of glass littered the sidewalk in front of the church facing Lincoln Avenue.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford confirmed Tuesday that the contractor doing work in the area at the time of the gas leak was Visu-Sewer. A person who answered the phone at a Visu-Sewer office in the Chicago area declined to comment “at this time.”

Several GoFundMe fundraisers have been established for those affected by the home explosion, including two for a couple who lived at the home that exploded. A spokesperson for the fundraising site confirmed the legitimacy of the efforts.

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