HELL WITH THAT FIRE! I am one number away from BINGO!
Nine people were injured, two critically, in a fire and possible explosion at a Villa Park VFW post apparently ignited by a welder working in a basement gun range during the post’s weekly bingo night this evening, authorities said.
Firefighters were called to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2801, 32 E. St. Charles Road in the west suburb, about 6:30 for a report of a fire and an explosion in the building, said Lombard Fire Department Battalion Chief Ronald Rakosnik, who is set to become Villa Park’s fire chief next month.
Nine patients were taken to area hospitals, two in critical condition, three in fair-to-serious condition, and the rest in good condition, Rakosnik said.
“It’s an old building. I am told that it was built in the 1940s. We think there was a lot of gunpowder buildup in the basement, which may have caused an explosion,” Rakosnik said.
About 50 people were at the VFW when the fire started, playing bingo at the VFW’s usual bingo night, while in the basement, a welder was working on the backstop of a shooting range, said Post Cmdr. Dennis Geiseman. During the welding, insulation behind the backstop apparently caught on fire, and spread quickly into walls of the building.
Those inside at the time fled.
“We were scared to death,” said Heidi Ekeberg, 66, of Elmhurst. “Everyone ran to the emergency exits.”
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