Here is what I have tonight (I also have a few more photos to share and I will continue to share the photos as I get them all).
AMEREN ILLINOIS WORKER KILLED IN CITY GAS EXPLOSION HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED....
Thursday, November 17, 2016 02:34PM
City --Authorities on Thursday were investigating the cause of a gas explosion that rocked downtown homes and businesses in a central Illinois community, shattering glass and cracking interior walls in nearby buildings and killing one person and injuring several others.
The blast Wednesday evening in (OMITTED), which is 150 miles southwest of Chicago, happened while utility workers were trying to fix a gas leak that a contractor apparently caused while digging, officials said.
"The impact of this blast was tremendous and that caused some serious, serious damage," the city's police chief, Rick Nichols, said at a news conference Thursday.
Ameren Illinois said its crew had turned off the gas and was beginning to make repairs when the explosion happened. Police Chief Nichols said investigators are still trying to determine what ignited the blast.
The explosion killed one of the Ameren workers, whom OMITTED County Coroner Steve Hines identified as 38-year-old Arturo Silva Jr., of OMITTED. Arturo Silva, Jr. of OMITTED died from blunt force trauma to the head and chest. Silva was one of four Ameren Illinois workers who were working to fix a gas line when the explosion happened.
Authorities said there were a total of 12 people who were taken to hospitals, though it wasn't immediately clear if that included the worker who died.
Police Chief Nichols said searchers haven't found any new casualties, but that officers are still trying to make sure that everyone else who was in the area got out safely.
"We're hopeful that there's no one else who's unaccounted for," he said. A damage cost estimate wasn't available yet, Police Chief Nichols said.
Jill Dillefeld, a psychiatric nurse from OMITTED, told the (Peoria) Journal Star that she was eating at a bar about a block from the square when she heard "the biggest kaboom I have ever heard in my life."
"Everyone jumped," she said. "The door where I was sitting blew open."
Several buildings were damaged by the blast, including a historic 19th century Opera
House that now houses offices. The police chief said officials hope to shrink the closed area to one block around the blast, but that it can only be done once it has been deemed safe.
"We have structural engineers in the area checking area buildings. This is a very slow and methodical process. They are working hard and as fast as possible," the OMITTED County Emergency Services Disaster Agency (ESDA) said in a statement.
The National Transportation Safety Board (TNTSB) tweeted Thursday that it opened an investigation into the blast.
My heart weighs heavy for Arturo Silva, Jr's family and I am terribly sorry for their loss. This is a tragedy for our city from the death of this young man as well as the loss of businesses for the downtown area.
Now here are some new photos that I have gotten that I didnt have in the previous 2 blogs. I'll continue to post photos as I get them and I will also be posting photos of the slow clean up process until it's restored enough for the city to return to its daily life being able to access the downtown square area.