Billett, IL – A liquid petroleum (LP) gas leak is believed to be the cause of a home explosion in Billett Tuesday evening.
It was like somebody put a bomb in the basement, Denison Fire Protection District Chief Stan Kelsey said.
At the time of the explosion, 15-year-old Kody Shick was taking a bath, a family friend reported. He suffered burns over approximately 47 percent of his body after he was blown from a bathtub into a nearby field. Shick was transported via Life Flight helicopter to the burn unit at Shriners Childrens Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As of 9 a.m. today, Shick was listed in stable condition, with burns primarily on his back, legs and right arm. He was the only one in the home at the time of the explosion.
It is a miracle that anybody could walk away from that, Kelsey said.
Denison Fire Protection District was dispatched to the scene at 8:45 p.m. The blaze was under control by 11:30 p.m. with the assistance of approximately 30 firefighters and mutual aid from Lawrence-Allison Fire Protection District.
Numerous residents in Lawrenceville reported windows and doors shaking at the time of the explosion, up to 6 miles from the blast site.
I heard a loud boom and just thought it was a jet passing by, said Renee Smith, who resides in the Lawrence Addition, just south of Lawrenceville. It sounded like it was right in my neighborhood.
The blast completely destroyed the double-wide trailer, leaving behind only a crater where the concrete-block basement used to be. Kelsey reported a screen door was found 30-40 feet high in a tree and whole sections of walls completely blown out.
In over 30 years with the fire department, I have never seen a house totally destroyed like that, he said. The explosion just leveled [the home].
Kelsey also said debris from the blast was found as far as 250 feet from the site. Surrounding homes did not report any damage from the explosion.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal conducted an investigation but has not released an official report. However, Kelsey said it was definitely an LP leak.
Were trying to determine where that leak was at and what set that leak off, he said.
Billett residents are served by individual propane tanks, so gas service to surrounding homes was unaffected.
Shick is the son of Matt Shick and Tina Shick and is a freshman at Lawrenceville High School.