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3 Hurt, House Destroyed In Explosion

Fire officials survey the wreckage of a house explosion near 122nd and Ada. (CBS)

Fire officials survey the wreckage of a house explosion near 122nd and Ada. (CBS)

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UPDATED 11/29/10 5:53 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Three people were injured – one critically – when a house exploded Sunday evening on the Far South Side.

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The house explosion happened about 7:30 p.m. at 12247 S. Ada St., Fire Media Affairs spokesman Joe Roccasalva said.

There was only one person inside the home, a man who was burned and suffered other serious injuries, Chicago Fire Department Chief Tim Sampey said. The man, 30, was able to make it out on his own and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in serious-to-critical condition, officials said.

Two teens in a house to the north were taken in good condition to MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, Sampey said. They suffered no serious injuries, and were being checked out because they were so close to the blast, officials said.

A neighbor, David Kembi, described the scene.

“It was just one loud ‘boom,’ like a train hit the house, because my room is toward the back, and the force came from the back,” Kembi said. “They pushed the window in; my parents’ windows in too.”

Another next-door neighbor said he and his wife were watching the Bears game when they heard explosion. “It felt like a bomb went off and my wife started hollering,” said the man, who declined to give his name. All the windows of their home were blown out, but they escaped injury.

The blast at the one-story ranch house left debris everywhere, blowing out car windows and sending bricks through the windows of the homes across the street, Roccasalva said. The explosion completely levelled the home and blew out windows of nearby houses, including the house the two teens were in.

Crews continued to sift through the rubble Sunday night but had concluded that no one else was hurt in the blast, officials said.

Responding crews found no fire, but smelled gas and fire officials are calling the incident a possible gas explosion.

Following the explosion, all homes on the 12200 block of South Ada Street and nine homes on nearby Throop Street were evacuated as emergency crews investigated. Crews secured the gas line in the area and are working to make sure there are no leaks, she said.

Officials have not yet determined what caused the explosion, but “it looks like an accident,” Johnson said. “This time of year furnaces are going nonstop and people are cooking,” using a lot of gas, she said.

Debris remained scattered all over the street in front of the wreckage where the house stood, and spilled into neighboring yards. About 160 firefighters and paramedics responded to the blast, Roccasalva said, and crews remain at the home as of 10 p.m. Sunday night.

Keon Murdoch, who works with a neighborhood agency that boards up damaged houses after emergencies, visited the scene of the explosion Sunday night.

“There’s nothing to board up,” Murdoch said, scanning the wreckage. “It exploded all the way down.”

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.