Chicago apartment explosion rattles residents: 'My heart almost shot out of my body'

At least eight people were injured in a blast around 9 a.m. Tuesday near West End and Central avenues, collapsing the top floor of the four-story building and filling the street with dust, bricks and debris.

"All of a sudden, I hear boom," said Otis Manning who lives across the street. "My heart almost shot out of my body. I saw windows busted open, I saw debris."

The building is still standing as of Wednesday morning, but there is concern about collapse, according to officials. 

  • Ten ambulances were called, and at least eight adults were transported to hospitals, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.
  • Two men were taken to Loyola University Medical Center, one in serious to critical condition and the other in fair to serious condition, fire officials said.
  • A man was taken in serious to critical condition to Mount Sinai Medical Center. A man and a woman were also taken there, both in fair to serious condition.
  • A woman was taken to West Suburban Medical Center in fair to serious condition.
  • Two men were later transported to Stroger Hospital, one in fair to serious condition and the other in serious to critical condition.

One of the victims was in the building across the street, Deputy Fire Commissioner Marc Ferman said in a news conference at the scene. He said the injuries ranged from burns to trauma.

Nearby buildings were evacuated and also searched, Ferman said.


Henry Mims told FOX 32 Chicago he was running late Tuesday morning otherwise he would’ve been inside his car that was covered in debris.

"My car is completely totaled, smashed in," said Mims.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by CFD’s Office of Investigation, CPD and the ATF. Officials with the Chicago Fire department say the "source" of the explosion was the fourth floor. 

People’s Gas inspectors ruled out gas service as a cause.

The owner of the building, Roman Viere, says the explosion came from unit 301. Viere also said the building had a safety inspection Tuesday and nothing was noted. 

The building at 5601 W. West End Avenue is owned by West End LLC and managed by Urban Alternatives.

Chicago’s Department of Buildings had not received any recent inspection requests, according to officials. The building has been cited in the past, but none of the violations would have "contributed to an explosion or structural failures," according to the department.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot released this statement: "My thoughts are with those who were injured and displaced in the building collapse in the Austin neighborhood. We must also thank the brave men and women of the Chicago Fire Department who are working to abate the dangerous conditions."

The Red Cross is assisting the families from the 31 unit building. They’ve set up a shelter at 118 N. Central Ave at the Circle Urban Ministries. It’s not known if their homes can be saved.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.