WARREN (WWJ) – Cleanup continues in Warren, Thursday, after an industrial laundry facility was destroyed in an explosion.
The blast that officials suspect was triggered by a gas leak leveled the building, shattered windows and spread debris throughout the Hoover-Stephens neighborhood.
The scene the following day 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 was reduced to a pile of sticks and rubble.
WWJ’s Ron Dewey said nearby businesses were also irreparably harmed from the impact of the blast.
A gas station at Hoover and Stephens was forced to close after the roof caved in. The owner pointed out a two- inch gap in the roof-line, where the roof lifted from the walls and buckled from the force of the blast. There’s now ceiling tiles, fixtures, and other debris all over the store.
Next door, Bob Proskowski, the owner of the Pro Precision Machine Shop went through the same thing, with three employees inside at the time of the explosion.
“The roof lifted up and everything from the ceiling came down, and fortunately didn’t hit any of them. And they got out safely. So, thank God for that,” Proskowski said.
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.
Following the 8:30 p.m. explosion, Wednesday, 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.
At least two people were injured.
A special search team was called to the scene, sifting through the debris to make sure nobody was buried.
Meantime, speaking to WWJ Newsradio 950, Consumers Energy’s Debra Dodd said they have not yet 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 remain on the scene, looking for the source of the gas leak. Crews are also trying to find out why a gas meter was turned off to part of the building that exploded.