Indianapolis, IN — A massive explosion in an Indianapolis neighborhood has killed two people and injured eight after it tore through a neighborhood on the south side, displacing at least 200 residents.
The explosion occurred Saturday just after 11 pm EST near South Sherman Drive and Stop 11 Road and it, along with the resulting fire, has left 27 homes uninhabitable, reports NBC News. Marion County Sheriff John Layton stated:
“Multiple houses engulfed in flames. Even the police officers that go to the scene before I did were not sure what happened. Kind of a surreal scene, even for police officers.”
Officials have called in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to help them discover the cause of the deadly Indianapolis explosion after they were unable to determine the cause on their own.
Fire officials have shut off all utilities to the area in order to prevent any possible gas leaks or electrical sparks while they investigate the cause. Video of the explosion showed massive flames shooting out from the scene after the initial blast leveled two homes, sending pieces flying across neighboring lawns.
The Chicago Tribune notes that Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, stated of the explosion:
“There’s a significant number of homes that have sustained damage, including two that have been completely destroyed. No cause has been ruled out. The investigation is ongoing.”
Beyond the burning homes where the explosion in the Indianapolis neighborhood originated there was wider damage as the shock wave shattered windows, caved in walls, and blew front and garage doors off their hinges. Residents were directed by firefighters to evacuate to a nearby elementary school.
About 200 residents were evacuated from their homes and most left to sleep at the homes of friends or family. About 20-25 people stayed on cots overnight, where they were assisted by the Red Cross. Officials stated that they have been unable to identify the two people killed in the blast.
USA Today reports that as of 2:52 pm EST residents were being allowed back into their homes that had little to no damage, though they are still without power. Other residents whose homes were moderately damaged and marked with a yellow flag were allowed to go in only to retrieve what they needed. They had to be escorted by a member of the fire department.
When he heard of the explosion on the news, nearby resident Doug Karr recalled, “I was watching the news and I got to thinking, I got extra rooms, I got extra stuff, why don’t we go do something.” Karr and his daughter opened their home to Roy and Doris Jarnagan, along with their Cocker Spaniel Tanner.
Doris stated, “He and his daughter opened up his house to us.” She added of taking Tanner with them, “We couldn’t leave him behind because of all the broken glass in the house.”
Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are expected to arrive soon to help firefighters sort through the damage to discover the cause of the deadly Indianapolis explosion.