Home explosions occur almost daily in the United States.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country respond to an average of one home fire every 88 seconds. Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 355,400 home structure fires per year, fires that caused 11,670 civilian injuries, 2,560 civilian deaths, and $6.5 billion in direct damage.
Here is a look at two incidents, one recently and one from last fall, and their aftermaths:
Chicago suburb home explosion: man hospitalized
From Fox 32, Chicago: A home explosion in Streamwood, Illinois, sent a man to the hospital with extensive injuries. Streamwood is a village of about 40,000 in suburban Chicago, about 35 miles northwest of the Downtown Loop.
Kevin Hill, a neighbor, heard the blast and jumped to action. “I ran across the street and I saw a man who was kneeling by the home by an air conditioner,” Hill said. “I said ‘Sir, there’s been an explosion here you need to get away, come with me, come with me.’ When he stood up and turned around, his face was full of blood, his arm was bloody and I said ‘Sir, you must come away.’ ”
Streamwood firefighters confirm the injured man was doing HVAC work on the home on Shag Bark Lane when the explosion happened around 4 p.m. Monday
Chicago suburb home explosion: explosion, then fire
Hill said the injured man had lacerations all over his face, likely when shards from the house blew out. Moments after the explosion, the house went up in flames.
“First it was smoke, then it was flames billowing up from every opening in the home, and then the fire department showed up and they started putting the fire out,” Hill said. “I just hope that everybody is OK. The guy that’s injured can heal. I hope the homeowners can get the home replaced, repaired.”
Gas investigators say it could take some time before they know what caused the townhouse to explode.
Columbia Gas to pay $143 million in settlement
From the Washington Post: Columbia Gas of Massachusetts was ordered to pay $143 million in compensation in the areas that experienced explosions and fires last year after a gas-line mishap that affected more than 10,000 homes and businesses.
The settlement will go to residents and businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover — just north of Boston — to help those who suffered losses in the aftermath of explosions that rocked those communities last Sept. 13.
An over-pressurization of the area’s gas pipeline system, which Columbia Gas was in the process of repairing, led gas to stream into buildings, causing dozens of explosions and fires.
One Lawrence teenager, Leonel Rondon, was killed when a chimney on his friend’s house was blown off and landed on the car in which he was sitting. Columbia Gas already has settled lawsuits with the Rondon family and the friend’s family.
The crisis caused many homes to be uninhabitable while safety officials inspected gas connections and appliances in the days after the explosions.
Settlement a consolidation of class-action suits
The $143 million settlement, a consolidation of class-action lawsuits, is meant to address those who were not physically harmed but were displaced or significantly affected by the fires and damage to heating systems, water heaters and natural gas appliances in their homes and businesses.
“We are fulfilling the commitments that were made from the very beginning,” Columbia Gas spokesperson Dean Lieberman said.
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said he sees the settlement as good for the company. “The question is: after the attorneys take their cut, how much are residents and businesses really left with?” Rivera wrote in a statement. “My hope is that the people and businesses in these class-action lawsuits are truly being made whole and not being victimized yet again.”
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed in home fires and explosions. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out this form and submitting it: