After fire breaks out, home explodes in south suburbs

FOX 32 NEWS - A home in the south suburbs caught fire Friday and while firefighters were inside, an explosion leveled the house.

The firefighters are doing ok and fortunately, the family was not inside at the time.

What’s devastating for the family is they lost several pets.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the fire and explosion.
The close knit community along Kedvale Avenue watched in horror as their neighbor's home became engulfed in flames around 3:45 in the afternoon. Many neighbors were just returning home.

"I got out of the car and then boom! Big explosion and I don't know what blew up. Then all of a sudden it had to be 10 minutes later the house was engulfed,” said neighbor Philip Wallace.

John Starostka says his brother, the homeowner, had also just pulled up when his home first caught fire.

"He lost everything, everything in the house is gone. There's nothing left of the house,” said John Starostka.

The family had at least three dogs, two cats and two exotic birds inside the home at the time.

Neighbors say firefighters got the door open and the owner tried to save them.

"He tried to call his animals, he tried to call all the animals out, but nothing. The smoke, the smoke took them,” Wallace said.

The Oak Forest Fire Department says two firefighters became trapped in the home, but were able to get out safely.

The state fire marshal along with the Will, Cook and Grundy county arson task force are now investigating.

Neighbors are doing their best to be a support system for the family of five who lived in the home.

"My wife cried all the way here, she's an animal lover too and she feels for the wife. So, we feel for the family a lot,” said neighbor Dave Polak.

For the Starostka family, this loss is difficult to take.

"I'm very grateful, I lost my father in January and I'm glad...I don't think we can handle another one, another loss. I've lost two brothers already and I don't need to lose another one,” John Starostka said.

The fire marshal says fireworks and ammunition may have contributed to the explosion, but that is still being investigated.

Fire officials say a number of residents will not be able to get back into their homes Friday night.

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