INDIANAPOLIS A roaring explosion that leveled two homes and set two others ablaze in a huge fire forced about 200 people from an Indianapolis neighborhood where two people were killed, authorities said Sunday. The powerful nighttime blast shattered windows, crumpled walls and inflicted other damage on at least 14 other homes.
Four people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after the explosion and fire, the Indianapolis Fire Department said in a statement. Fire Lt. Bonnie Hensley said firefighters put out the flames and then went through the rubble and damaged homes one at a time in case people had been left behind. Two bodies have been recovered.
Some witnesses said in televised reports that they heard people screaming "help me! help me!" after the explosion and fire and that two parents and two children were safely pulled from one house that caught fire.
The fire department has not released the names of those killed. Hensley said one body was found in one of the leveled homes after the fire was put out.
The explosion at 11 p.m. Saturday destroyed two houses that were side by side and spread fire to two other nearby homes in the neighborhood on the south side of Indianapolis. Hensley said at least 14 other homes were damaged in the area by the blast's shock wave or flying debris.
The blast was heard for miles around. Authorities said they had no immediate information on the cause. The fire department and other agencies were investigating.
Survivors reported shattered windows, caved-in walls and garage doors knocked off their hinges. Of the two homes that were leveled by the blast, Hensley said: "There's nothing left."
All power, gas and other utilities in the area were shut off as a precaution as emergency officials swarmed the site.
About 200 people were taken to an elementary school, where some milled about in pajamas and coats they had grabbed as they fled. Some had their dogs on leashes, and one woman had evacuated her home with a cat. Most eventually left to stay with relatives, friends or at hotels, but 15 to 25 remained through the night, sleeping on cots.