House explosion

The residence is located in the 12000 block of Russell Street in Hopkins Park.

HOPKINS PARK — A family whose home was destroyed by fire on Valentine’s Day is asking for the public’s help.

Nefatara Maxwell-Tyson said she, her husband and two grandchildren were not at home when the fire broke out about 7 p.m. Feb. 14. The residence is located in the 12000 block of Russell Street in Hopkins Park.

An 8-week-old puppy perished in the fire.

Tyson said they believe it was caused by an electrical issue.

“People in the neighborhood said the lights were flickering before the house exploded,” Tyson said.

Tyson recently had purchased a portable home heater that uses propane gas. She said she had yet to hook the tank up. It was probably the cause of the explosion.

“The fire department did a great job. The explosion helped the fire spread,” Tyson said. “One of the guys in the department lives nearby and got the truck down here.”

Tyson said she lived in the Colonial-style home for 18 years, raising her five daughters.

She was preparing to start a remodeling project. All the supplies were destroyed in the fire.

A GoFundMe account was started by her daughter, Aisha Maxwell. The goal is $5,000, which will help with housing as well as clothing for Tyson, her husband and the two grandchildren.

The American Red Cross provided assistance to the family.

Tyson said it was the second fire at the home.

In February 2012, the house sustained heavy damage. Tyson said she and her daughters were able to rebuild.

“This time it’s irreparable,” she said.

Jeff Bonty is a reporter for The Daily Journal. He can be reached at and 815-937-3366.


Jeff Bonty has worked for The Daily Journal since September 1986, starting in the sports department before moving to news reporting in 2002. He's a native of Indiana and graduate of Purdue University. His email is