Buffalo Grove Police and Fire Respond to Help Despondent Man, Then House Blows Up Before Their Eyes


Video of aftermath of explosion and fire in Buffalo Grove shows firefighter operations and structural damage to the house in the 600 block of MacArthur Drive (High-quality video, low quality/easier download here).

UPDATE MAY 5 2009: Michael Cheney,41, was charged with residential arson on Friday May 1, 2009. Prosecutors say that Cheney became despondent when his girlfriend left him last November. He allegedly released natural gas into the home that he and his girlfriend shared, and then called friends to declare that he was committing suicide. Friends called 9-1-1 and police and firefighters immediately responded. While rescue personnel were attempting to access the home and rescue Michael Cheney, he allegedly lit a match that ignited and caused an explosion, burn injuries and a fire at his home. He spent several months in the hospital. Cheney was released on $80,000 bond.

NOV 24 2008 — Buffalo Grove Police got a call to check for the well-being of despondent man in a house on MacArthur Drive just after 2:40 p.m. Monday. Buffalo Grove Police and firefighters were on the scene and smelled natural gas when they tried to negotiate to get a man to come peacefully out of a house in the 600 block of MacArthur Drive about 2:45 p.m. Knowing there was a danger of explosion from natural gas reaching an ignition source, emergency officials worked hard to speak with him to get him out of the house.

Firefighters and police officers also worked quickly to shut off the gas, block the street, and evacuate and protect neighbors from the danger of a potential explosion.

The house suddenly exploded, blowing off the entire north wall of the two-story raised-ranch house, and damaging the rear, west wall of the house …  right before the eyes of firefighters and police officers. Firefighters immediately made radio calls to the 9-1-1 center to request more fire crews, reporting they had a working fire on the second floor. In the aftermath, the rear wall could be seen pitched back and outward at the top — about 15 degrees. The house was rendered structurally unsafe because of the explosion and posed an extra risk, so extra precautions were necessary while fighting the fire from the inside of the home.

The injured 40-year-old man was rushed to Northwest Community hospital after he either walked out of the house following the explosion or was blown out the north side by the force of the blast. He was later transferred to the Loyola University Burn Unit, leaving Northwest Community Hospital about 4:30 p.m. by helicopter.


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Neighbors were asking firefighters and police officers how emergency workers arrived on the scene before the fire and explosion occurred. Neighbors were also concerned with the well-being of the man and his two dogs. Some neighbors cheered when they saw the dogs were safe outside of the house. Most bystanders arrived after the resident of the house was transported to the hospital.

In the aftermath, firefighters said debris was falling like snow immediately after the explosion. Fire Departments from Arlington Heights, Long Grove and Wheeling assisted Buffalo Grove Fire Department.

Soon afterwards another fire broke out at a factory at 1010 Johnson in Buffalo Grove for an extra alarm fire … see Factory Fire at Vapor Bus International on Johnson Drive Buffalo Grove …