Indy Blast Destroys 2 homes, Sets More Ablaze

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A thunderous, late-night explosion destroyed at least two homes in Indianapolis and set surrounding homes ablaze, causing injuries, authorities said Sunday.

The cause of the explosion and fires wasn't immediately clear, but Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard dismissed reports of a possible plane crash as he arrived at the scene. Fire officials said separately that investigators would be checking whether natural gas was possibly involved but they had no further details on what was behind the blast that sent tall flames skyward.

Ballard said at least two homes had been destroyed by the powerful blast and that the damage went on "for blocks on end."

Television video showed tall flames shooting overhead and spreading to numerous homes shortly after the blast reported around 11 p.m. Saturday. Hours after the flames pierced the skyline, firefighters had begun containing the flames and thick clouds of gray smoke billowed overhead.

"It was so strong that it clearly had an effect for blocks," Ballard said from the area. Beyond the burning homes there was wider damage in the neighborhood: windows shattered in nearby homes, walls caved in and garage doors were knocked off their hinges.

Ballard said police have been going door to door but that it wasn't clear whether there were fatalities. Residents were told to evacuate to a nearby elementary school and people could be seen shivering in white blankets handed out to them as they moved off.

Ballard said investigators will have to see what they find in coming days.

"We're going to need some comforting in the next few days," he said.

Capt. Rita Burris with the Indianapolis Fire Department told The Associated Press that the scene looked like something out of a war zone. "It's really messy," she said soon after it began.

She said by telephone that firefighters immediately began the work of containing the house fires.. She said there was preliminary information of injuries but she did not know exactly how many people were hurt of the severity of the injuries.

Television reports said dozens of people were evacuated, adding authorities had contained the flames early Sunday.

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