Man hospitalized after explosion at East Chicago rail yard

FOX 32 NEWS - An explosion at a rail yard Friday sent an employee to the hospital.         

Now, fire investigators in East Chicago, Indiana are trying to figure out what led to the powerful blast.

Neighbors several blocks away could hear the blast, many thinking it happened outside their homes. Instead, it happened at Lakeshore Railcar Services. The injured worker is currently being treated for severe burns.

The quiet East Chicago neighborhood shook around 4 p.m. Friday.

"Like a big explosion. All my windows shaking and we come outside and we don't see nothing. No ambulance, no nothing,” said nearby resident Rodolfo Ramirez.

Shortly after, a rush of fire trucks and an ambulance raced to Lakeshore Railcar Services on 145th street and Euclid. The interim fire chief had the day off when he was bombarded with calls.

"I live just a block away, I wasn't home at the time, I was enroute back to Chicago when I received phone calls from friends and family in the neighborhood. Everyone thought that something happened in their own backyard,” said Chief Anthony Serna.

The East Chicago fire department says a 46-year-old man was working when the blast happened.

"I can tell you now it was a process of their propane cleaning rail car. Something went wrong, caused the explosion with one victim and he's being airlifted to Loyola,” Serna said.

The victim is severely burned, but first responders say he was conscious and talking when they took him to the hospital.

Residents who live just blocks from all of the industry say they're concerned being with being so close and vulnerable to companies mistakes or mishaps.

"With everything that goes on around here with the steel mills having chemical leaks and everything else, you never know what could happen,” said Fred Rohrman.

The injured employee is said to be in stable condition, and what led to the explosion is still being investigated.

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