ORION TOWNSHIP (WWJ) – Now that the fire has subsided, crews will begin trying to determine what caused a gas line to rupture, sparking an explosion and massive fire.
The incident happened around 10 p.m. Monday near the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets shopping area in the area of Brown and Joslyn roads. Officials say a gas transmission line ruptured, setting off an explosion and fire that could be seen from miles away. The blast created a crater 18-feet deep and exposed about 30-feet of the 22-inch natural gas line.
Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morganstern said their focus Tuesday will be to determine what caused the gas line to rupture.
“We need to find out what happened and we will get to the bottom of it. We have cordoned off the area to make it safe so that people don’t walk into the area, and we’re going to be working into the details and get the answers on why this happened,” Morganstern said live on WWJ Newsradio 950. “We’re working very closely with the Michigan Public Service Commission on investigating this.”
The explosion happened with little warning. Flames could be seen hundreds of feet in the air and from as far as 25 miles away.
“We noticed a drop in the pressure on the system at about 9:52, which was I think about 10 or 15 minutes before first responders realized there was something wrong and responded to the site,” said Monganstern. “We monitor this, we inspect, we make sure that our system is in good shape. We will get to the bottom of this and find out what caused last night’s fire.”
Despite the explosion, Morganstern said he’s not worried about Michigan’s infrastructure in general.
“It’s not a frequent situation. We do monitor our gas system 24 hours a day,” he said. “We have a comprehensive pipeline safety inspection program. All of the major pipelines, like the one that was affected here in Orion Township, are inspected at least every seven years. And we have no reason to be concerned about the integrity of our gas system.”
No injuries were reported.