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Walled Lake Explosion

February 24, 2012 by staff 

Walled Lake Explosion, Investigators say they believe natural gas caused a single-story apartment building to explode Thursday morning in Walled Lake, injuring four people.

The blast in Apartment 3 in the nine-unit, motel-like building at 5:54 a.m. appeared to be accidental and due to natural gas, Walled Lake Police Chief Paul Shakinas said. Consumers Energy investigators also were on the scene.

“One victim stepped out to smoke a cigarette, and when she walked back into the building, that’s when the explosion occurred,” Shakinas said about 8 a.m., as an Oakland County Sheriff’s Office K9 walked around the charred remains of the unit at the Lighthouse Landing Apartments, 42880 Fourteen Mile Road.

A blue jacket, burned and tattered, lay nearby on 14 Mile.

The blast was still under investigation later Thursday. Consumers Energy inspected all the lines going into the building Thursday morning and found no leaks, spokeswoman Debra Dodd said. The company also dug up the underground lines leading into the complex and didn’t find any leaks.

“What happened came from within the apartments, on the customer-owned fuel line,” Dodd said.

A loud thud just before 6 a.m. woke up Alan Meranda, 50, who lives just east of the apartment building. He went outside to check it out.

“I saw fire on the roof,” Meranda said. “I didn’t smell gas, but it wasn’t a normal burning smell. So I don’t know what it was.”

The victims were stabilized at Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills before being transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital’s burn center, said Margo Gorchow, Botsford vice president of community relations.

The woman, 26, and three men inside, two 19-year-olds and a 24-year-old, all were injured in the blast, two with serious burns to the upper body and head, Shakinas said.

“The people who self-evacuated were walking and talking when I got here — they met me at the curb,” said Walled Lake Fire Capt. Matt Salow. “They were all very dazed when I got here, unsure of what had happened yet.”

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