Three people died after a house explosion in the 1000 block of North Weinbach Avenue in Evansville, the county coroner’s office confirmed. Multiple units from the Evansville police and Evansville Fire Department were responding.
Police have shut down most streets in the area around where the explosion happened, and a department spokeswoman said that part of Weinbach Avenue will likely be closed for several hours.
Here’s what we else know so far:
6:06 p.m.: Some homes ‘uninhabitable’
At least 11 of the 39 homes damaged in the explosion are “uninhabitable,” Evansville Fire Department Chief Mike Connelly said.
5:10 pm: ‘There could be other victims’
One other person has been hospitalized after the blast, Connelly said in an update from the scene. But the search for any additional victims, as well as the removal of debris, has been temporarily paused so the ATF can run a “blast analysis.”
“There could be other victims,” he said. “We have not yet completed our search.”
CenterPoint was restoring gas and power to area homes. As of now, Connelly said, “I don’t think evacuation (of the neighborhood) will be necessary.”
Many surrounding roads, however, will remain closed. Weinbach will be blocked from East Columbia Street to Oak Hill Road all night.
4:13 pm Coroner’s office says 3 dead
An email from the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office:
“At this time, there are 3 deaths reported to us that are a result of the explosion on N. Weinbach Ave. Notifications to next of kin are in the process. When next of kin have been notified and there are more details this office will issue a news release.”
3:45 pm: Update from Evansville PD spokeswoman Anna Gray and Evansville Fire Chief Mike Connelly
EPD spokeswoman Sgt. Anna Gray said two people were injured in the house that exploded. The third injury was in a neighboring house. There is no update on their conditions. And it’s unclear how many people will be displaced by the damage.
Evansville Fire Department Chief Mike Connelly said, in total, 39 houses were damaged by the Wednesday afternoon explosion.
The EFD has not confirmed if all of those houses were unoccupied at the time of the blast because “some were too unstable to enter.”
The ATF is now on scene investigating. Connelly said they are experts in explosion investigations.
Residents who live in the area are being let through by EPD so long as their house is in a safe area.
2:58 pm: Knight Township Trustee office damaged
The Knight Township Trustee office sustained damage and will be closed “for the foreseeable future,” Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said on social media.
Knight Township Trustee Kathryn Martin told the Courier & Press the explosion was at a property next to her office, which is located at 1116 N. Weinbach Ave.
Martin said she wasn’t there when it happened, as she was returning from a meeting. She confirmed her staff is OK but she’s “very worried” for neighbors.
Where was the house explosion in Evansville?
The explosion was reported at 12:58 pm
A photo Mayor Lloyd Winnecke posted to social media showed the addresses of the homes involved. 1010 N. Weinbach Ave. appeared to be completely destroyed and gone, while 1008 and 1012 N. Weinbach suffered heavy damage.
Two of the homes are rentals, according to the Vanderburgh County Assessor’s website. The third is owned.
Are there power outages due to the explosion?
Police said there is damage to surrounding homes and buildings, but all fires have been extinguished. CenterPoint was reporting 162 power outages in the area of the explosion as of 2:53 pm The number had been as high as 1,000 earlier.
Evansville Fire Department Chief Mike Connelly said the explosion had a 100-foot blast radius. There is no word yet on what caused it.
What roads are closed in Evansville?
North Weinbach Avenue between Morgan and Vogel avenues is closed. North Hercules between Columbia Street and Vogel Avenue is closed.
How does this affect EVSC school dismissals?
In a social media post, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. officials reported that students and staff at nearby Vogel Elementary were safe following theburst, which was a few blocks from the school. The EVSC said the situation would “impact dismissal.”
“We are working closely with EPD on plans to dismiss students. More information to come as soon as possible,” the post said.
What are people seeing?
ABK Tracking captured video of the explosion on a security camera and shared it with television station WFIE-NBC14. The video shows the explosion blow parts of the house several dozen feet into the air, and across Weinbach Avenue.
About four blocks south, Jasmine Vickers said the explosion happened during nap time for the 12 kids at Future Leaders Childcare. Amazingly the blast only woke up one, “but the building shook, and we looked outside and saw everyone running.” She said she woke everyone up and evacuated the building immediately.
Leslie Lawrence, who works for Award World Trophies in the 700 block of North Weinbach Avenue, said when the explosion happened, “Everybody jumped. We thought a tree had fallen on us, or a car crashed into the building.”
Video shot by Bri Watson on scene and shared with the Courier & Press shows widespread destruction. At least one house was gutted, while multiple others suffered serious damage. Shrapnel from the explosion covered parts of North Weinbach Avenue.
Have there been other house explosions in Evansville in recent years?
This is the second time in the past five years that there has been a house explosion in this area. On June 27, 2017, a house explosion at 1717 Hercules Ave. killed Sharon Mand and Kathleen Woolems. He injured three others.
In June 2021, Vanderburgh Circuit Court Judge David Kiely dismissed a lawsuit against CenterPoint (previously known as Vectren) from the surviving victims of the 2017 explosion citing CenterPoint’s investigation found nothing indicating it was at fault.
On April 3, 2004, a natural gas explosion leveled a house at 3307 Lincoln Ave., killing 89-year-old owner Daisy Pauline Hardy. A visitor to the home, Josie Williams, died later from burn injuries at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.
The blast also injured Vectren employee Mark Rexing, who was preparing to relight the pilot light. An Evansville Fire Department investigator said that a gas leak occurred after city water department employees mistook the gas line to Hardy’s house for a water line.
What has CenterPoint said?
CenterPoint spokeswoman Erin Merris issued a statement to the Courier & Press Wednesday afternoon.
“CenterPoint Energy crews responded to an explosion this afternoon at a home on N. Weinbach Ave. in Evansville and worked with first responders to secure the area,” the statement read. “CenterPoint Energy is working closely with the Evansville Fire Department, State Fire Marshal and other agencies as the investigation of this incident continues.”
This story will be updated.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism