Residents Pick Up After West Frankfort House Explosion

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Jared Roberts

WEST FRANKFORT -- A West Frankfort house explosion left one man seriously injured, a family without a home, and neighbors wondering how it all happened.

The explosion took place around 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters had Public Works tear the home down because it was extremely unstable. But there were several people on the scene Monday, trying to find anything salvageable. Like neighbors Linda Hobgood and her son Jeremy, who are trying to lend a helping hand to the residents who lived here.

"Last night I came down and helped them; I found some picture albums, and you know pictures can't be replaced," says Linda. 
 
Jeremy explained, "We're seeing a lot of people come by and take pictures of the house and then drive away, and nobody is offering to help."
 
While the tenants Chris Fann and his girlfriend Jeannie Jones are grateful for the help, they're not too happy about the rumors flying around about what happened.
 
"My uncle and his girlfriend are hard-working people, and then you have people just gossiping. It's not right," says niece April Waldron. "They lost everything, they don't need people going around and saying, 'Oh, meth lab.' They're not druggies."
 
Waldron says the only person at the home Sunday was Jeannie's nephew Casey, who lost his mother and needed a place to stay the last few months. She says he went outside to smoke when the house exploded.
 
"We know it was not drug-related, says Waldron. "Casey maybe accidentally left the stove on or something like that."
 
West Frankfort Fire Captain Derek Saillez is also ruling out the meth lab idea, because he says Casey admitted while in the ambulance to working with an insecticide chemical.
 
"All of us are not familiar with it, so it's new to us. We're still trying to figure out what it is, how he was doing it, what he was doing with it, nobody knows. We asked him several times, and he would not tell us how he was doing what he was doing," says Saillez.
 
Now, everyone is waiting for some answers, and for some, a little help to move forward.
 
Casey's family says he suffered burns over 80 to 90 percent of his body and is currently in a medically-induced coma. The couple did not have renter's insurance. They are currently staying at a friend's home.
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