Just how much damage can an exploding McMansion cause?

Investigators are looking into what caused the massive explosion of a large Long Grove home:

The scene on the Trenton Court cul-de-sac and surrounding neighborhood in Long Grove after an explosion Friday night obliterated a home was something Jeff Steingart has not experienced in 32 years of firefighting…

The force of the blast, which damaged an estimated 50 homes within a quarter mile and was heard and felt several miles away, could make finding the specific cause difficult.

“She didn’t smell it. She was in her master bathroom brushing her teeth, heard a pop and saw a fire outside her bathroom window,” he said. The woman called 911 and was walking across the street to a neighbor’s house when the explosion occurred…

About a half dozen nearby homes were severely damaged, he added, and the overall damage likely is “in the millions” of dollars. About six homes are uninhabitable.

This was quite the explosion – other reports suggested people were calling 911 from miles around. I wonder if the size of the explosion is directly related to the size of the house. In other words, a larger home has more space for a gas leak to build up so that when something sets off the explosion, there is a lot more gas and home to blow up. Even in a neighborhood with sizable yards (a Zillow listing for a recently-sold home on the same short street says the home has 0.77 acre lot), this can lead to lots of damage.

One odd thought: given the odor of natural gas, couldn’t someone design some sort of ventilation system that would detect the smell, automatically vent the home, and alert the authorities? We have smoke and radon detectors so why not natural gas? Perhaps it would be easier to build this into passive homes where the air has to be ventilated. How much cost could this really add to a million-dollar home?

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