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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

One Person Dies After Austin Building Explosion, With Blast Caused From Natural Gas, Fire Officials Say

Eight people were hospitalized with injuries from the blast. Among them was Shabron Robinson, 29, who died Thursday.

First responders respond to an explosion in a 35-unit apartment building that injured eight people in Austin on Sept. 20, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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AUSTIN — A 29-year-old man died Thursday after he was injured when his apartment building exploded this week in Austin.

The Tuesday morning explosion at 5601 W. West End Ave. injured more than a half-dozen people, shattered the building’s roof, partially destroyed its roof and left bricks and other debris strewn across the ground. The explosion was caused by “the ignition of natural gas,” the Fire Department tweeted Friday.

The cause of the ignition is still being determined.

Eight people were hospitalized with injuries from the blast. Among them was Shabron Robinson, 29, who lived in the building. Robinson was pronounced dead Thursday evening, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Robinson had “extensive burns,” according to the Fire Department.

The other injured people have been released from their respective hospitals, spokespeople said.

“We are sad to hear of the passing of one of our residents,” Roman Viere, owner of the building, said in a statement. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family.”

The explosion happened in a 35-unit apartment building, displacing dozens of families.

Urban Alternatives, the building’s management company, is refunding September rent to all residents and has offered move-in ready apartments with “comparable rents” to all 31 families who were displaced, according to a statement.

The company has waived past-due balances and escorted families into the partially destroyed building so they could get their valuables, according to Urban Alternatives.

The explosion led to 135 first responders going to the scene, officials said. People’s injuries ranged from burns to trauma.

A car on the street by the building was crushed by bricks, and wood from the explosion pierced a nearby building.

The building has failed 12 Department of Buildings inspections since February 2010, city records show. The most recent failed inspection, from 2020, says there were six building code violations, including for the inspector not being able to get entry into most of the apartments or being able to verify there were detectors.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot previously said the city is closely monitoring the incident.

The Police Department’s bomb unit and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are going through forensic evidence and investigating the cause of the explosion, Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The explosion sent wood flying into a nearby building.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
First responders respond to an explosion in a 35-unit apartment building that injured eight people in Austin on Sept. 20, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A car is crushed by debris after an explosion in a 35-unit Austin apartment building injured eight people on Sept. 20, 2022.

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