Fire officials release cause of apartment building explosion that killed a man in Austin

The Chicago Fire Department Office of Fire Investigation confirmed the cause of the apartment building explosion Tuesday that killed one person was the ignition of natural gas. 

The investigation has not determined the cause of that ignition, officials said.

One of eight people who were injured when an explosion that tore through the top floor of a Chicago apartment building has died, according to fire officials.

The Chicago Fire Department said a man who suffered extensive burns as the result of the blast at an apartment building near West End and Central avenues, succumbed to his injuries early Thursday evening.

Shabron Robinson, 29, of Chicago, was the most seriously injured of the eight people involved in the Tuesday morning explosion in the Austin neighborhood, fire officials said. He was taken to Loyola University Medical Center where he died Thursday night.


David Schwartz, of Peoples Gas, said their equipment and system was not responsible for the explosion.

"Our service to the site was working properly. There remains no reason to believe any of our equipment – or any other part of our system -- was responsible for the incident. As a reminder, piping and appliances inside the building are the responsibility of building management and/or residents," Schwartz said in a statement.

Seven of the injured were in the building on the city's West Side when the explosion occurred and one apparently was in a building across the street, Chicago Fire Department Deputy Chief Marc Ferman told reporters. Three of the people who were hurt had serious to critical injuries, the department said.

Seven other victims included:

  • One man was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in fair to serious condition;
  • 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;
  • And two men were later transported to Stroger Hospital, one in fair to serious condition and the other in serious to critical condition.

The explosion at the 36-unit, four-story apartment building in the South Austin neighborhood occurred at about 9 a.m., officials said. A cause of the blast had not yet been determined.

Photographs and video posted on the Chicago Fire Department’s Twitter page showed that much of the top floor was destroyed. Scores of bricks and other debris had fallen onto the street, crushing at least one car and seriously damaging two others.

Chicago police bomb squad and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the explosion.