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No one hurt when house explodes on Far South Side

A lone porch post with a scrap of an American flag stood upright amid the heap of debris — one of the few signs that this had once been someone’s home.

The homeowner was at her teaching job Tuesday morning when the house, in the 2100 block of West 107th Place, erupted in flames and then collapsed in on itself. Shortly before the explosion and fire, crews from the Chicago Fire Department and Peoples Gas had been on the street dealing with a gas leak.

“What we felt was an explosion and then debris came raining down on us,” said John McNicholas, the Chicago Fire Department’s deputy fire commissioner of operations.

The fire didn’t spread to any of the neighboring homes, firefighters said, and no people were injured. The family dog, Molly, appeared to be the only victim, a neighbor said.

The incident remained under investigation Tuesday afternoon. At one point, 150 Chicago firefighters were on the scene.

Fire and gas crews initially arrived about 8:30 a.m., responding to a report of a gas leak at another home on West 107the Place, McNicholas said. The resident of that home reported a small fire “near his boiler” in his basement, McNicholas said. That fire was quickly extinguished, McNicholas said.

A short while later, as crews were searching for a gas shut-off point, the explosion occurred. It was unclear what might have led to the gas leak, but McNicholas said some “infrastructure work” was being done on the street at the time.

Paula Everett, 60, lives next door to the destroyed home. She was at work at the time, but her husband was in their upstairs bedroom, when the blast knocked him off his feet and sent objects tumbling from shelves, she said.

Dan Everett called his wife and told her to come home.

“The house was in flames, burning like crazy,” Paula Everett said.

Everett said she’s spoken to her neighbor, a mother of three children, who was in shock.

“She’s very upset about losing her dog,” Everett said.

At the time of the blast, firefighters had evacuated the block and were going door-to-door searching for the smell of gas, Fire Media spokesman Will Knight said.

“It was like a rolling noise. I thought it was a truck,” said Pat Collins, who lives two blocks away.

Thick white and black smoke poured out of what remained of the house — a pile of splintered and blackened timbers, with only the front steps to indicate a home once had stood there.

People’s Gas crews remain on the scene supporting the fire department, spokeswoman Jennifer Block said.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, Knight said.

A fund has been set up to help the family as they try to rebuild their lives. People wishing to contribute can send donations in care of the Sheahan Family to the Beverly Bank & Trust, 10258 S. Western Ave., Account No. 400099295, Chicago, Il., 60643.