Coroner releases names of victims killed in Evansville house explosion
Officials: No additional victims found after secondary search of home explosion
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Evansville Fire Chief Mike Connelly has been holding updates throughout the day after Wednesday’s deadly home explosion.
[Officials: 3 people dead, 39 homes damaged after house explosion in Evansville]
That happened near the 1000 block of North Weinbach Avenue.
“You talk about the most unsettling sound,” said Max Bridges, who lives just down the street. “You can’t even describe it.”
The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office says three people were killed as a result of the explosion.
On Thursday afternoon, these victims were identified as 43-year-old Charles Hite, 37-year-old Martina Hite and 29-year-old Jessica Teague. All three were from Evansville.
Chief Connelly says two of those three were in the home where the explosion happened. He says the third victim was a neighbor.
Officials with the Evansville Fire Department say another person was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“I mean just the feeling when you heard it, you didn’t want to believe it was something so loud,” Bridges said.
You can watch Chief Connelly’s 8 a.m. press conference below:
During the 8 a.m. update, Chief Connelly reiterated most of what was discovered on Wednesday.
39 houses were damaged by the explosion. Fire officials say that could be anything from a blown-out window to being uninhabitable.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m a little worried but that comes with the territory, you know what I mean?” Bridges said. “It could’ve happened anywhere man, we’re talking about something that just... suddenly happened, out of the blue.”
Several different agencies responded to the scene, including the ATF. Chief Connelly says they came in but did not impede search and rescue efforts.
The fire chief also thanked several businesses, such as Donut Bank, McDonald’s and Mission BBQ for supplying refreshments for first responders.
You can watch the 11 a.m. press conference below:
At 11 a.m. Thursday, officials told 14 News they were able to have a thorough secondary search and didn’t find any more victims.
We’re now learning that no animals died in the explosion and only one cat was rescued.
Fire officials say they believe that Weinbach Avenue in that area will likely be closed for the rest of the day, but it will reopen on Friday.
Right now, CenterPoint Energy crews are doing tests on the integrity of the gas line from the main to the meter.
Chief Connelly says after the secondary search, they have tagged homes in the area. He says a “red” tagged home means no entry is allowed. “Yellow” means you can enter with an escort and “green” is free to enter.
If anyone has damage to report, you are asked to call the Building Commission at 812-436-7818.
Rural King has donated totes so crews could save valuables for family members.
Officials from Red Cross say they helped 15 families. They say 14 of them needed a place to stay.
“Very unsettling, very unnerving,” Bridges said. “I’m just glad we were able to get somewhere safe.”
Red Cross is working on providing meals, mental health needs and spiritual care.
You can watch the 2 p.m. press conference below:
During another briefing on Thursday afternoon, Chief Connelly says the cause of the explosion is still “undetermined” at this time.
CenterPoint Energy officials say crews have been on scene since the explosion. They say no gas leak was detected on the exterior of the home, but they cannot confirm whether there was one inside the home.
Chief Connelly says state agencies are now taking lead on the investigation, which remains ongoing.
He says one final news briefing will be held on Friday at noon.
You can watch our entire team coverage in the following video from 14 News at 6 p.m.
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