July 23, 2014 at 10:24 am

DTE investigating Royal Oak house fire after firefighters discover downed lines

Royal Oak Fire department officials investigate on the scene on Mandalay Street at 14 Mile in Royal Oak on Tuesday. (Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)

Royal Oak — An electric wire that fell across a porch may be the cause of a fire that completely destroyed a home Tuesday afternoon.

Investigators for DTE Energy Co. are looking into the incident that occurred at about 2:30 p.m. at a home on Mandalay, near 14 Mile.

No one was injured in the blaze, including the family dog which was rescued from the home by neighbors. By the time the home owners arrived, the house was nearly completely destroyed.

“When we arrived, we found the house charged with electricity,” Royal Oak Fire Chief Chuck Thomas said. “Wires were on the house. The eves were charged; you could see them arcing.”

According to Thomas, firefighters had to wait until personnel from DTE cut power to the home.

“At this time, it’s unknown how long it took for power to be cut,” said DTE spokesman Scott Simons. “That will be part of the investigation.”

Firefighters were forced to watch the house burn while the wires were still live.

“If you put water on it, electricity could travel down the hose and electrocute whoever is on the nozzle,” Thomas said. “You could also get electrocuted touching anything that’s made of metal. You have to stand back and wait for the power to be cut. It’s very frustrating.”

The house fire is located within about half a mile of a home on Cooper, just north of Normandy, which was leveled in a gas explosion on Feb. 27, 2013.

The blast killed 58-year-old retired auto work Daniel Malczynski and his dog. It also damaged dozens of nearby homes.

An investigation showed that the Consumers Energy failed to meet natural gas safety standards during the installation of an underground gas line.

Consumers — which accepted responsibility for the incident — was fined $430,000 by the Michigan Public Safety Commission.

The company also agreed to pay $1 million to create a new response fund including $900,000 to help victims of natural gas disasters and an additional $100,000 to help train utility and first responders.

TGreenwood@detroitnews.com
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