Police called to Oak Lawn house hours before explosion, fire - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Police called to Oak Lawn house hours before explosion, fire

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OAK LAWN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Police were called about an unwanted person at a southwest suburban Oak Lawn home early Saturday, about three hours before an explosion destroyed the residence and damaged nearby homes.

No one was hurt in the blaze, officials said.

Firefighters were on the scene shortly after 5 a.m. in the 8900 block of South 55th Court, the SouthtownStar is reporting. The force of the explosion was so great, bricks were scattered around the yard, walls were blown out, the front wall buckled out, and houses on either side sustained damage.

"The house is a total loss," Oak Lawn Battalion Chief John Hojek said.

A home to the south suffered only broken windows, but a home to the north - one the owner is trying to sell - had about $10,000 in damage, Hojek said.

Shortly after 2 a.m., police were called to the same house for reports of an unwanted person at the home, according to a release issued by the Oak Lawn Police Department.

Officers intervened in a "verbal disagreement," and a woman and children left for the night with some friends while a male resident stayed at the house, according to the release.

He was later found uninjured outside the house at the scene of the fire, according to police.

Meanwhile, police are questioning a man who lived in the home, although it is not immediately clear whether it is the same person who stayed behind after the dispute.

Shortly after 9 a.m., Mitchell Kushner, an investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, was on the scene with Zoe, a dog trained to sniff out accelerants.

Firefighters were "met with heavy fire load" when they arrived on the scene, Hojek said. "We went defensive and went to a box alarm level."

"Everybody was out of the house except for (the resident). He was taken into custody," Hojek said in the driveway of the house to the north.

Hojek said he saw police place a man in handcuffs on the home's driveway.

Oak Lawn Police as of 11:30 a.m. had a man in custody but had not released his name and no charges had been filed against him.

Anthony Lewis, who lives about a block to the south, said he did not hear an explosion, but was amazed by the fire.

"As soon as I walked to the sidewalk outside my house, I could see the flames shooting out toward the street. It was totally engulfed. (Firefighters) were shooting water down from the ladder, too," Lewis, 28, said.

"I thought maybe it was a gas explosion," Lewis said.

The man whose house is north of the blast site has a "for sale" sign in his yard, a task that he said may be delayed after he makes repairs to the house. He requested his name not be used.

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