Probe of deadly blast near Fairmount underway

Probe of deadly blast near Fairmount underway

FAIRMOUNT — State fire authorities are investigating a devastating blast that killed two people Tuesday outside this small Vermilion County village of 620.

Dave Ferber with the Fairmount Fire Department, said the explosion northwest of Fairmount “blew the house completely apart.”

He said the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office was investigating the cause. Ferber didn’t want to speculate about what might have caused the explosion.

“We’re going to let the fire marshal do his investigation,” he said.

Family members of the deceased and others gathered at the scene Tuesday, but emergency officials kept most people back about a mile away.

Peggy Myler, who was there Tuesday night, said the explosion happened at the home of her elderly cousin, Delores Sapp. She said her cousin runs the pay lake and had moved there years ago with her now-late husband, William.

Myler said Fairmount resident Floyd Walton worked as a handyman for her cousin, and was at the house Tuesday helping with a water heater.

The single-family, one-story house sits near a lake — called a pay lake, where others pay to put their campers and enjoy the scenery. According to Myler, Walton helped her cousin with things around the lake.

Ferber said his department first learned of the explosion at 10:34 a.m. Tuesday, when someone in the area heard it, saw a plume of smoke and called 911.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, the house at 2716 East 1333 North Road was leveled and a large debris field covered the area, he said.

Pieces of the house were everywhere. The basement was covered by about 5 feet of rubble, which was still on fire.

Ferber said he was unsure whether anyone was inside at the time of the explosion, but people in the area began showing up at the scene, telling officials people could be in there.

Ferber said a backhoe was brought in to start digging through the rubble, and eventually two bodies were discovered.

The Vermilion County coroner’s office has not yet identified the deceased, and Ferber would not release information about either victim.

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