Building explosion displaces students, affects ‘Meals on Wheels’ program

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Fire officials are investigating what caused a building to partially explode on the U of I campus.

No one was hurt, but it forced dozens of students out of the Hendrick House on Green Street in Urbana Monday night.

But those students aren’t the only people impacted by this. It’s actually affecting how some get their meals.

Emergency crews responded to get things under control and asses the damage.

“The whole roof is off of it. It was enough of an explosion that it did take that roof off,” said Urbana Fire Chief Charles Lauss.

It blocked of streets and sent debris flying.

Chief Lauss says it happened in the north side of the building, and that’s where you can see most of the damage.

The explosion forced 56 people out of their homes.

“I’m glad no one got hurt and I’m glad everyone was where they were supposed to be. People got out of the building and safe away from it as fast as possible, so that’s all fantastic. Everything went according to our training,” says building employee Sam Constantine.

The Hendrick House is private student housing not owned by U of I, but the kitchen there is the main food supplier for Champaign County’s Meals on Wheels program.

“We’re waiting on Hendrick house, and it seems like they’re hopeful they will have an alternate space that we can use while the repairs are being made,” says Julie Schubach with the Family Service Senior Resource Center.

In the meantime, they have to call all their clients with a back-up plan.

“[We] call in orders from a local restaurant, pick them up, and deliver them like we would other meals,” says Schubach.

Meals on Wheels also has emergency food funding for people in need, but organizers say they hope things can return to normal sooner rather than later.

A Hendrick House employee we spoke with says residents have been put in temporary housing.

It will be at least 24 to 48 hours until they can return.

The Urbana Fire Chief says it will be about five to seven days until officials can figure out what caused the explosion.

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