By DON BABWIN – Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Eight people were rushed to hospitals after being injured when an explosion ripped through the top floor of a Chicago apartment building on Tuesday, officials said.
The explosion at the 36-unit, four-story apartment building in the South Austin neighborhood happened around 9 a.m., officials said. Chicago Fire Department Deputy Chief Marc Ferman told reporters hours later that the department had finished searching for potential victims and was “confident” that no one remained trapped inside the building, including much of the top floor had collapsed.
He said technical crews had shored up upper floors to allow firefighters to search “to make sure we didn’t leave any casualties under the debris.”
The cause of the explosion had not yet been determined.
Seven of the injured were in the building on the west side of town when the blast happened and one was apparently in a building across the street, Ferman said. Three of those injured had serious to serious injuries, the department said.
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Photographs and videos posted to the Chicago Fire Department’s Twitter page showed much of the top floor was destroyed. Dozens of bricks and other debris had fallen onto the street, crushing at least one car and severely damaging two others.
Several residents said they were at home when the blast rocked the building.
“I was asleep, and all of a sudden there was a big bang,” Lawrence Lewis, who was sleeping at the time, told WGN television. “I woke up with my windows gone, my front door blown out. I just saw smoke and ran out of the house. I was asleep. I’m shaken right now.
Otis Maning, who lives across the street, told the Chicago Sun-Times he was on his couch watching TV when “all of a sudden I hear, ‘Boom!'”
“My heart almost jumped out of my body. … I saw shattered windows, I saw debris,” he added.
The Chicago Police Department bomb squad and agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the blast.
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