Man helps evacuate residents minutes before explosion


URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — People are calling one man a hero after getting around 50 people out of a building before it exploded.

An employee at Hendrick House told me Jayvon Thomas noticed something wrong in the maintence room.
He got everyone out of the building. Minutes later it exploded.

“Very scary that he was that close. Thank God. I know he’s really shook,” Sam Constantine, employee at Hendrick House, said.

One man is being called a hero after an explosion at Hendrick House in Urbana. If he had been minutes later, it may have been catastrophic.

“He was on the scene as soon as he got a call. He was trying to find where the smell was coming from,” Constantine said.

Sam Constantine is an employee at the Hendrick House. He says the RA called their maintenance man, Jayvon Thomas, after noticing a gas-like smell. Thomas was inside the room just minutes before it exploded.

“He was inside the boiler room no less than maybe 4 or 5 minutes before it blew and they were like this is the source. They got out of there as fast as possible and then as soon as they were away from it is when it happened,” Constantine said.

Thomas hurried to get 56 people out of the building.

“As soon as the explosion happened he got out, went around the front to make sure that everybody was out of the building,” Chuck Lauss, Urbana Fire Chief, said.

Everyone made it out safely, thanks to one man, who told WCIA on the phone, that he’s not a hero, he was just doing his job.

“Terrible that it happened, but emergencies happen. We handled it well. Just glad everyone’s okay,” Constantine said.

Urbana Fire Department said the cause is being investigated. The people who live at Hendrick House are being put in temporary housing for the time being.

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