East Chicago home explosion leaves man severely burned

CHICAGO — The East Chicago Fire Department is investigating after a house exploded Saturday morning, leaving a man badly burned.

It happened in the 3900 block of Evergreen Street in East Chicago, Ind., about 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Based on their preliminary investigation, firefighters said the explosion appears to have been caused by natural gas.

"I got up, took a shower, went into my bedroom [and] was lying there looking up at the TV," neighbor Pedro Valenzuela said, "and all of a sudden a big BOOM. [It] moved the whole bed, shook the whole house."

"It sounded like a bomb was going off," neighborGilda Orange added.

First responders found a man in the rubble.

"He had 60 percent of his body burned," Fire Chief Anthony Serna said. "Severe burns."

Neighbors said they didn't think anyone was living he home and that the victim may have been a contractor. The man was taken to a local hospital; details on his condition were not immediately available.

Locals were asked to vacate their homes for four hours Saturday as a precaution. Officials turned off gas on the street.

"Oh, it cracked one of my windows on the side," Valenzuela said. "That’s how powerful the blast was."