Mahoney, Silverman & Cross, LLC

INVESTIGATORS SEARCH FOR ANSWERS IN FRANKFORT EXPLOSION

www.southtownstar.com

A month and a half after a home exploded in Frankfort, eight homes still are at least temporarily uninhabitable, and there still is not an answer as to what caused the explosion.

About 80 residents attended a village meeting on Saturday morning to receive an update from village, fire and Nicor officials on the area around 144 Sycamore Lane.

Clyde and Luella Reills were killed in the Sept. 6 explosion.

There still are seven homes that cannot be lived in and one home that is destroyed, Mayor Jim Holland said.

Holland said that, while it may seem to be taking a long time, the various groups involved all are trying to find the cause as quickly as possible.

“There is a substantial legal process that goes on in this sort of issue,” he said.

Holland acknowledged the site “is not a pleasant thing for all of us to be looking at every day.”

There have been extra police patrols of the area, and a couple of residents said they thought they had seen a prowler only to realize it was the police.

“We do see police stopping in front of our home,” one woman said.

For homeowners affected by the explosion, the Frankfort Township assessor’s office has photographs of all the properties in the township, which can be helpful for insurance companies, Assessor Paul Ruff said.

Once insurance companies send valuations to the township assessor’s office, “We can make adjustments of the value of the property effective the date of the disaster,” Ruff said.

The gas meter has been removed from the home but has yet not been tested, village attorney Kevin Yusman said.

On Sept. 19, Nicor did pressure testing of the pipes leading to the property, and there were no leaks, said Bernard Anderson, of Nicor Gas.

“We are confident the integrity of the system was intact,” Anderson said.

All groups involved are expected to be at the property Thursday for a “visual inspection,” Yusman said. “Some of these experts are coming from all across the country,” he said.

The process is complicated because parties involved in determining the cause include the manufacturers of the home’s furnace and hot water heater as well as companies that manufactured parts for them, said Ken Grey, attorney for the estate of Clyde and Luella Reills.

“It is kind of a laborious process,” Grey said.

Items will begin being removed from the home the week of Nov. 10 so they can be inspected, Grey said.

Yusman said the goal is to have everything complete by the end of November so property owners can fix or rebuild their homes.

However, it may be months or even years before it is known what caused the blast, officials said.

“But we may never know the cause,” Assistant Fire Chief Larry Rauch said.

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