Authorities do not yet know what caused the massive explosion that rocked the center of Evansville, Indiana, on the 1000 block of North Weinbach Avenue around 12:58 p.m. on Wednesday, but it was fatal all the same. Three are dead. One was hospitalized after the blast.
According to a statement made by Evansville Police Department spokesman Sgt. Anna Gray, two of the victims are believed to have been in the house that exploded, while the third victim was in a neighboring house.
The names of the deceased are being withheld until their families can be properly notified.
"Calling it thunder would be like an understatement," Max Walter told WHAS11. Walter, who was working nearby, indicated that the explosion shook the building he was in and caused the windows to buckle. When he went outside to see what had happened, "there was insulation and debris falling on us like snow."
The blast sent debris 100 feet in every direction.
The Evansville Fire Department resumed the search for other potential victims several hours after the blast and once the ATF had completed its blast analysis. According to EFD Fire Chief Mike Connelly, "there could be other victims."
Investigators found that a total of 39 houses were damaged by the explosion. Connelly noted that 11 are now "uninhabitable."
Vincent Taylor, a roofer who had been working nearby, told WFIE: "Total devastation. ... A lot of people lost everything down here. Their houses are totally gone."
The Courier & Press reported that of the three houses obliterated by the blast — 1010, 1008, and 1012 N. Weinbach Ave. — two were rental properties.
When asked whether the cause of the explosion was a gas leak, Connelly told reporters: "We don't know the cause."
EPD announced late Wednesday that N. Weinbach Ave. would be shut down for the foreseeable future. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke indicated that the Evansville Red Cross was supporting first responders at the scene and was ready to support sheltering if needed. EPD specified that displaced residents could find resources at Vogel Elementary School.