Chicago, IL –
ABC7, By Charles Thomas Investigators still have not pinpointed the location of a gas explosion that forced an apartment building to collapse on the city’s West Side. Part of the building crumbled Monday morning at 108 S. Lotus. Tuesday, some residents were moving out of the building.
After all the debris was removed, investigators searched the basement area thoroughly and found nothing that would indicate anything other than a natural gas explosion. However, how the gas leaked and how it was ignited remains a mystery.
While workers built a fence around parts of the foundation left exposed by Monday’s explosion, some tenants entered other parts of the building to remove personal items. Arnell Smith is moving his sister out permanently, believing the structure, a part of which fell so suddenly Monday, is not safe.
“You can’t trust anybody. You can’t trust what anybody is saying. So our decision is to get out,” said Arnell Smith, tenant’s relative.
Monday morning, the building’s southeast end collapsed, injuring seven people. Raven Sandifer, who spent the night at Mount Sinai Hospital with a back injury, was walking outside the building when he was hit by the force of the blast.
“Then ‘Boom!’ I thought somebody was shooting or whatever. The force threw me up against something,” said Raven Sandifer, building collapse victim.
While investigators suspect natural gas propelled the explosion, they have not determined how the fuel may have leaked or been ignited. Deputy District Fire Chief Ernie Pinkon returned to the scene Tuesday afternoon and issued on order to stop civilians from entering the damaged side of the building.
“I’m out here now just to see the condition of the building as I noticed there are some civilians inside the building that should not be there. It is still a dangerous structure,” said Dep. Dist. Chief Ernie Pinkston, Chicago Fire Department.
For now, the landlord plans to rebuild part of the building that was destroyed in the explosion. We do not know when the building department will allow other tenants who live here to move back into the undamaged sections.