WARREN (WWJ) – An explosion Wednesday evening rocked a neighborhood near Nine Mile and Hoover in Warren. Clean up and investigation of the blast is now underway.
The scene Thursday morning showed chunks of cement blocks and pieces of glass thrown across the street and even further, with debris hanging from trees and street lights – the building itself has been reduced to a pile of sticks and rubble.
The explosion was reported around 8:30 p.m. in the building that was being used as a commercial laundromat. Warren police were telling residents who called 911 that a building had exploded, apparently from a gas main rupture.
WWJ’s Marie Osborne said the building was leveled and a special search team was called to the scene to search the debris to make sure nobody was buried.
A formal investigation will take place, but Warren officials say a gas leak led to the blast that damaged homes and other businesses along the Hoover corridor.
Speaking to WWJ Newsradio 950, Consumers Energy’s Debra Dodd said they have not confirmed that the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak.
According to Dodd, between six and eight homes on nearby Avondale Street suffered extensive structural damage from the explosion. The homeowners were evacuated and will not be allowed back in their homes for an undetermined period of time.
Dodd said crews will remain on the scene, looking for any possible gas leaks. Crews are also trying to find out why a gas meter was turned off to part of the building that exploded.
The explosion caused nearby homes and businesses to shake and have their windows blown out.
A first responder on the scene said 13 cars were damaged from flying debris. Two vehicles that were passing by at the time of the blast were thrown on their side.
A gas station at Hoover and Stephens was forced to close after the roof caved in. WWJ’s Ron Dewey surveyed the scene and saw a two-inch gap in the store’s roof-line, where the roof lifted from the walls and buckled from the force of the blast. He said ceiling tiles, fixtures and debris are scattered all over the store.
Bob Proskowski, the owner of Pro Precision Machine Shop went through the same thing, with three employees inside at the time of the blast.
“The roof lifted up and everything from the ceiling came down. Fortunately, it didn’t hit any of them so everyone was able to get out safely. Thank god for that,” Proskowski.
Proskowski said it will be cheaper to move his machines to a different building than to re-build. Until that happens, his 12 employees will be in limbo.
Around the corner from the explosion, Stephana Martin of Welders Alloy said the blast created quite a ruckus at her workplace.
“The people who were working at night, the whole building was shaking, they felt it. Light fixtures were coming down inside the building. It was horrible,” Martin said.
One resident said it is a “miracle” no one was killed in the blast. “I was sitting there and then all of a sudden, I felt a very, very loud boom and I thought, actually I thought a place had crashed,” she said.
Mark Davis, who works at a stamping facility just up Hoover, said he could feel his house in the 7-Mile/Van Dyke area shake from the blast, which is about 2.5 miles from the explosion site.
Hoover Road was closed in the area for several hours Wednesday.