Chicago building collapse: Cause of explosion that injured 8 on Central and West End in South Austin under investigation

CHICAGO (WLS) — Crews are expected to be back out later Wednesday morning to clean up debris after at least eight people were injured in a building collapse caused by an apparent explosion in South Austin Tuesday morning.

This happened about 9 am near West End and Central avenues.

The cause of that apartment building explosion is still under investigation, after the blast sent eight people to the hospital, three of whom were taken in serious-to-critical condition.

Victims suffered burns and traumatic injuries, fire officials said.

WATCH: CFD responds to South Austin building collapse

Several of the victims have since been released to the hospital, somehow with few visible injuries.

“A large burn on the body can be months and months of treatment, not to mention the recovery after that,” said Dr. Joshua Carson, Loyola University Medical Center burn center medical director. “So it really can be anything.”

Carson said burns to the body can sometimes also complicate how other traumas are treated.

“These building collapses, explosions, is that the burns are overwhelming, and everybody sees the burn when the patient comes in, and what you really have to do is to make sure your team knows not to get distracted and not forget about the other kind of trauma they can’t see,” he said.

Chicago fire officials said the blast took place on the top floor of the building, and could be felt blocks away.

The blast shattered windows, and covered cars in the street with bricks and glass.

Nearby buildings were evacuated, and schools in the area were dismissed early.

RELATED: Chicago building that exploded has history of inspection failures, alleged code violations

Officials said the blast was so intense, residents living in nearby buildings were injured and needed treatment.

ABC7 spoke with some of the explosion victims, who described those panicked moments after the blast.

Eric Hune was knocked clean off his feet.

“I just got up off the floor. I didn’t even see myself fall down. I got up off the floor and just ran straight out the door,” he said. “I woke up off the ground. I don’t remember hitting the ground. I just remember getting up and running.”

The third floor hallway, he said, was a fog of chaos, a mix of disorienting panic, dust and doors blown off hinges.

“As I was running out they couldn’t see where to go, there was so much smoke, so they just followed behind me,” he said. “So many of us running out, I couldn’t count.”

A nearby church also served as a Red Cross shelter for displaced residents, providing them with food and a place to sleep.

Many fled the scene without cell phones, identification or medications.

“My foundation of my home shook like an earthquake,” said Ashunda Harris, who lives in an apartment a few blocks away. “I saw a cloud of smoke from the building. It was a foundation type of smoke, not like smoke from a fire.”

WATCH: CFD deputy commissioner describes response to building collapse

Peoples Gas crews also responded to the scene; however, a company spokesman said there is no reason to believe the cause of the blast is related to gas or any of their equipment.

Online inspection records for the building that exploded reviewed by the I-Team reveal a history of inspection failures and alleged code violations.

The I-Team received clarification on some of this from officials at the Chicago Department of Buildings. Authorities say “none of the violations (in city records) would have contributed to an explosion or structural failure at the building.”

Roman Viere, the owner of the building, said in a statement, “This is a devastating event and we are heartbroken for all of our residents.

“Our first concern is the health, well-being and safety of our residents. We are doing everything we can to cooperate with emergency services, and we are ready to do whatever we can to support our residents.”

WATCH: ‘It’s very tragic’: West Side alderman reacts to building collapse

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was on the scene, as was the CPD bomb unit.

In a statement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “My thoughts are with those who were injured and displaced in the building collapse in the Austin neighborhood. We must also thank the brave men and women of the Chicago Fire Department who are working to abate the dangerous conditions. I am closely monitoring the events and both the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) and the Department of Buildings (DOB) are onsite at the collapse. We will provide updates as the situation develops.”

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