PONTIAC (WWJ) – Thieves may be to blame for an early morning house explosion in Pontiac. Battalion Chief John Widdis said he has seen similar house explosions in Pontiac this year.

“This is about the fourth one of these we’ve had. The house in vacant at the time, they’re going in and we’ve got a problem with people taking pipes … turn the (gas) meter off, go in and take the pipes. But then they go back out, turn the meter back on, and this is what you end up with,” said Widdis.

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Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd says if it turns out that scrap metal thieves are the cause of the fire it is an extremely dangerous situation.

“Natural gas is very safe when used correctly, but when you’re stripping lines, you are taking your life, your neighbors’ lives, the general public’s lives in your hands, and that’s a very dangerous thing to do,” Dodd said.

It happened in a two-story vacant home on South Shirley Street north of Auburn Road, near Woodward and M-59.

Ruby Lee, who lives across the street, said the explosion woke her up.

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“It sounded so loud it scared me, it really scared me,” Lee said. “I was in bed and I heard this loud explosion. I get up, go to the front door and opened it up … something exploded and blew the top off a house.”

WWJ’s Lance Howard, flying over the scene in the LaFontaine Cadillac Buck GMC chopper, said one wall crashed into a neighboring house. A second wall was blown into the backyard and the roof crashed down.

Lee said a family lived in the home years ago. She said it’s been empty for awhile, but new owners were keeping the property up.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

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