Cause of deadly blast at Royal Oak home under investigation - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Cause of deadly blast at Royal Oak home under investigation

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The spot where a home used to stand on Cooper Ave. in Royal Oak. The spot where a home used to stand on Cooper Ave. in Royal Oak.
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WJBK) -

Officials are investigating the cause of an explosion that leveled a suburban Detroit home, killing a man and damaging other houses in the neighborhood.

Consumers Energy says its crews had been on Cooper Ave. in Royal Oak where Wednesday's blast happened in recent days to replace a natural gas main. It wasn't known whether that was related to the blast. They say they're working with the feds on the investigation because the National Highway Transportation Board is in charge of those pipes.

"There had been Consumers Energy working here all day, for days," said neighbor Garry Denton. "As soon as we opened the door and saw the house destroyed and the fire, we knew was it was because Consumers has been here for two days."

The subsidiary of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. says it's working with police, fire and state officials on an investigation, which could take months.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison, who surveyed the scene Thursday morning. "I watched the coverage on TV, but I wasn't prepared for this."

The blast around 5 p.m. was heard several miles away. Burning and smoking wood planks from the home were scattered nearby as firefighters rushed to put out the flames.

At least 35 nearby homes were damaged. Those residents have been evacuated until further notice. Officials are escorting them inside their homes to gather belongings.

Nicholas Sikora who lives near the blast site says he helped his next door neighbor. "We ran over there, helped a bunch of people. We got her in our kitchen, and we were able to make sure, she was fine, amazingly. Here's this older woman and all she had was a little cut on her leg."

Consumers Energy is footing the bill for their hotel stays while the investigation continues.

The identity of the 58-year-old man who died wasn't immediately released by authorities.

- The Associated Press contributed to this story

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