Firefighting, Structural Firefighting

Detroit Explosion and Fire Destroys 5 Homes, Damages 7—Arson Suspected

UPDATE: A total of 15 homes were impacted in a likely gas explosion Friday on the city’s southwest side that damaged at least eight homes and sparked a fire that spread to seven others, reports The Detroit News.

Fire officials are seeking a suspect, said Detroit Fire Capt. Jack Huckleby.

“Investigators are interviewing a man who was seen running out of the house that exploded who suffered burns to try and determine what role he might have played in the fire or what caused it,” city spokesman John Roach said late Friday.

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Original Story: Detroit, November 7, 2014–Detroit’s southwest side was rocked by a gas explosion that has destroyed 5 homes and damaged at least 7 others, according to fire officials.

According to Chief of Fire Operations John King, no civilian injuries have been confirmed. Witnesses observed a man run from the house just before the explosion, according to a spokesman for the city. The fleeing individual’s clothing was apparently on fire.

About 35 firefighters responded around 4:20 p.m. on the 2300 block of Oakdale near Vernor Highway. Fire crews were still on the scene at 7:30 p.m. working to put the fire out. DTE Energy crews were called in to shut the gas lines off in the homes close to the fire. The crews were drilling into the ground in front of several houses to access gas lines.

Only rubble, bricks and glass remained where the five homes once stood. Fire officials roped off a perimeter as dozens of neighbors watched them battle the blaze. One homeowner whose house was destroyed by the explosion declined to comment, but said his family “lost everything,” as he wept on a sidewalk across from the fire.

“Once they shut off the gas, we’ll be able to put it out,” King said.

A house about six doors down from the explosion is near collapse, King said. The home is uninhabitable after the entire second floor was consumed by fire.

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