ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, a house exploded in a residential neighborhood with a bang that could be heard over a mile away.
It was in the 800 block of 15th Avenue, near Kishwaukee and Broadway, where the blast happened, destroying the home in an instant and sending debris into the street and onto neighboring homes, blasting out windows and doors of adjacent houses.
The home was vacant at the time of the explosion, investigators said. No injuries were reported.
Rockford Fire Department Arson Investigator Michael Schapner said, “One of the things we have on a regular fire scene, is everything is in the house, or nearby. An explosion, stuff gets shot all over the place. So, we’re trying to figure out exactly where the explosion started, within the building as best we can and then evidence gets scattered everywhere, as well. So, it can be little bit longer of an investigation.”
“I was up eating and all of a sudden I heard a loud bang. It just shook the whole house,” said Charles Strickland, who lives nearby.
Strickland said he thought maybe the boom was from an earthquake or a blown transformer.
“You’ve heard power boxes being blown out, or a car hit a pole, or something. But, for a house to actually blow up is definitely, beyond measure. I’d never thought I would ever experience that,” he said.
The Veterans Drop-In Center is on the same block of 15th Avenue.
Deputy Director Lana McCants said, “It’s perplexing, to be honest with you, because you would have never expected it. Not here, not over here.”
McCants said her biggest concern is the safety of the children, elderly, and homeless who visit the center on a daily basis.
“This is proof that there’s a higher power, because the people next to that building had just moved out,” she said.
McCants and Strickland hope the explosion is a once-in-a-lifetime incident.
The owners of the property were contacted and declined to speak on the record, other than to say they were at a loss for words about the explosion.