Erie, IL- WQAD TV – A gas explosion leveled a home in Erie Wednesday.

It happened around 3:00 p.m. on Ninth Avenue in Erie, Illinois. The home of Assistant Fire Chief Doug Rutledge was reduced to a pile of lumber. Investigators say it appears a natural gas leak caused the explosion.

The explosion that rocked this tight knit community. “I was scared to death, shocked and when I sawit, more shock,” said neighbor Gloria Conrad.

“I thought, ‘My God, what happened, what the heck’s going on, an earthquake or something exploded,’” said fellow neighbor Cindy Sullivan.

These neighbors looked out their windows and saw billows of thick smoke poured everywhere after a gas explosion blew apart this home.

Luckily no one had been inside and emergency crews made sure the surrounding homes were also empty.

“It was felt in schools, uptown at the library, most all over town,” said Erie fire chief Jim Melton.

Erie firefighters worked to put out a fire underneath the roof of a house they say they knew too well.

“Kind of close to home for us, this is our first assistant fire chief’s house,” explained Melton.

His family looked on to see what was left of their home, pieces of it lying everywhere.

“Everybody knows everybody in this town, and they need help big time,” added Conrad.

The community is counting its blessings thankful that despite this devastating scene no one was hurt.

“Material things can be replaced, lives can’t be,” said Sullivan.

Even after the blast police evacuated the neighborhood because some bullets stored in the basement started going off.

Investigators say it may be weeks before they know what caused the explosion.