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O/T: FUNNY Cops: Man had 10 beers, blew up house

Qjet50

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Jul 26, 2007
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This is one of my favorite tenant stories. Puts my bad tenant days in perspective.


Cops: Man had 10 beers, blew up house
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By Jennifer Skalka
Tribune staff reporter

May 4, 2005, 4:32 PM EDT

A 38-year-old suburban man allegedly admitted to police he drank 10 beers before lighting a commercial firework inside his home, blowing up the house and seriously burning himself and a female companion.

"When you see these in public settings, they're 30, 40, 50 feet across at the top," Pat Barry, spokesman for the Will County sheriff's department, said of the firework the man allegedly set off. "Imagine this going off in a room that's about 8 by 8," Barry said.

The incident happened about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in a ranch house the man was renting on the 0-100 block of West Main Street in unincorporated Will County near Plainfield, fire investigators said. A 33-year-old Chicago woman was visiting him.

The firework was in a 10-inch mortar shell when the man allegedly ignited it.

Authorities said they learned a second, 8-inch mortar shell was in the home and had not exploded. The DuPage County sheriff's bomb squad and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called and retrieved the device without incident.

The man allegedly admitted to authorities that at one point he had eight mortar shells in the house and previously had set off six, presumably elsewhere, police said. The tenant allegedly had purchased the shells at a flea market.

Authorities told WGN-Ch. 9 the couple had been drinking and were sitting in the front living room of the house when the man allegedly brought out the mortar shell.

"Apparently, he thought he would light it, was kind of goofing around, and figured he could put it out," Barry said.

The man was wrong.

The device exploded seconds after being lit, blowing out a wall and every window in the home and setting it on fire. Neighbors heard the blast, called 911 and rushed to the scene.

Emergency personnel arrived to find the house in flames and the couple standing outside the dwelling. Firefighters quickly doused the blaze.

The couple sustained serious burns, Plainfield Fire Chief John Eichelberger said.

The woman initially was taken to an Aurora hospital and then transferred to the burn unit at Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, where she was upgraded to fair condition this afternoon, officials said.

The man sustained burns as well as shrapnel wounds to his stomach and legs. He was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, Joliet, where he was treated and released, police said.

"The whole house is pretty much, from the concussion of the explosion and the fire and smoke, totaled," Eichelberger said.

Carmen Morales, spokesman for Nicor, said the house did not have natural gas service at the time of the explosion. Eichelberger said the dwelling's electrical meter was locked, meaning there was no electricity to the home. Lights were on, however, in an attached garage.

The arson unit of the Will County sheriff's department was looking into the explosion and fire. No charges had been filed as of this afternoon, but the Will County state's attorney's office had joined the investigation, WGN reported.

"It's scary. We've got kids around here. What if they had been near that?" Bobbie Merideth, who lives across the street from the gutted residence, told WGN. "I feel bad for those people on that side of the street, but thank God it wasn't on my side."

CLTV contributed to this story.

Copyright (c) 2005, The Chicago Tribune
 

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