Springfield, IL – The Springfield fire marshal said the cause of an explosion that leveled a house in the Northgate subdivision on the city’s north end on March 22 was accidental.

The house’s owner had been traveling out of state but was returning to Springfield when the single-story home in the 2500 block of Sandgate Road exploded, fire marshal Ed Canny Jr. said.

There was gas buildup in the home for about five hours, Canny said, after a family friend of the homeowner, Christina Russell, turned on the water and lit the pilot light to the home’s water heater about 3:30 p.m.

An unknown mechanical malfunction caused the gas buildup for about five hours. Canny said investigators believe when the furnace automatically kicked on, it caused a spark to ignite the gas which led to the explosion.

Homes of neighbors to both sides of Russell’s home sustained some damage.

Canny said there was no way to tell how pronounced the gas smell was in the home.

“They should have smelled it, for sure, because of the amount of buildup,” Canny said. “There was a lot of gas in that house.”

Earlier, Canny said the explosion “pressurized everything,” lifted the house off the foundation and blew the walls out. Canny added that the roof came straight down.

There were no injuries reported.