6 p.m. update: A vigil is planned for 7 p.m. today at Southwest Elementary School in Greenwood. A teacher is beileved to have died in the explosion in a soutside neighborhood.
Greenwood schools are on a two-hour delay today as school officials wait for more information and prepare to tell students, teachers and staff the worst.
Noon update: A first examination of the homes has shown that 27 homes are uninhabitable after an explosion on the southside, emergency crews said.
Of those homes, eight have significant damage. Inspectors plan to post a list at Mary Bryan Elementary so residents know how their home has been classified.
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2 dead in massive explosion; cause unknown
Two people were killed and at least 18 homes damaged in an explosion in a southside neighborhood Saturday night.
Around 11p.m., an explosion leveled two homes in the 8400 block of Fieldfare Way, severely damaged the two homes next to them, and damage
was reported to homes on multiple streets in the Richmond Hill neighborhood near Stop Eleven Road and Sherman Drive.
More than 200 people were evacuated from their homes in a two- to three-block area, and sent to a nearby elementary school. As many as
20 people were given temporary housing from the American Red Cross for the night. Families were still not allowed to go home Sunday morning, as the investigation into what happened continued.
Officials from the Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Citizens Gas said they did not know the cause of the explosion. Initial reports were that a plane had crashed, but that was not true, said Indianapolis Fire Department spokeswoman Bonnie Hensley.
Emergency workers spent part of the night putting out a large blaze that could be seen for miles, and other crews searched for victims, Hensley said.
Firefighters used a system similar to what is used during natural disasters where homes are marked with spray paint after they are done searching, Hensley said. Electricity, gas and water to the neighborhood were turned off.
The explosion caused significant damage to the neighborhood, with homes two blocks away still being damaged with broken windows, bricks
damaged and garage doors knocked off their hinges, Hensley said. The debris field of insulation and construction materials stretched for blocks.
The area was repeatedly described as resembling a war zone.
Mavles Baier lives across the street from where the explosion happened. She was in bed when she heard the explosion. Her home shook and her doors and windows were blown out.
Her daughter also lives in the neighborhood and the back of her home destroyed, she said.
Baier said she immediately worried about her neighbors and family getting out safely. No one was home at one of the homes that exploded, she said.
Firefighters found a for sale sign in one of those yards, Hensley said.
Officials had called the coroner’s office to the scene because of the two deaths, but did not have any more information on the victims, according to the Indianapolis Fire Department.
Baier was hopeful to be allowed to go back home soon, but said she didn’t know what she would be going back to.
“You’re not talking one house, the houses, the rest up to it is just gone,” she said.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who came to the scene Saturday night into Sunday morning, called the damage shocking.
“People are shook up. You can tell on their faces, they are still shocked,” he said.
Inside the gymnasium of the nearby Mary Bryan Elementary school, families and neighbors gathered wrapped in blankets and wearing their pajamas. Volunteers and emergency workers brought in cases of bottled water, food, formula and diapers.
Off-duty nurses came in to check on people who had fled their homes, Ballard said. A volunteer on the phone worked to get one resident’s medication.
Four people were treated for minor injuries, according to the Indianapolis fire department.
Neighbors hugged and cried, happy to see they found each other safe.The biggest question was when they would get to go back home.
Before that would be allowed, officials wanted to make sure it was safe to let people go back, Ballard said.