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Officials: Faulty gas hook-up, cigar led to explosion

Mark Hicks, and James David Dickson

A 74-year-old man had burns on 50 percent of his body and his home is a total loss after a faulty gas hook-up and a lit cigar led to an explosion that ruined his home and left him hospitalized on Detroit's east side, the Detroit Fire Department confirmed.

A blaze was reported at about 6:20 p.m. in the 11600 block of Gable, but a blast also appeared to have destroyed the structure, said Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell. “Window glass was blown almost two houses down. The walls were leaning.”

The home exploded after the man lit a cigar, Fornell said, and owed to "a homemade hook-up" of a gas line to a water heater and dryer just off the kitchen area where the man was found.

Two neighbors climbed the leaning walls and retrieved the man before medics transported him to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where he was treated with first-, second-, and third-degree burns, Fornell said. He was in stable, serious condition at last report.

The home, meanwhile, "is a total loss," Fornell said.

Despite the fact that the gas hook-up was improper, Fornell said there wouldn't be legal ramifications from the explosion.

"This wasn't done with any malice; he certainly didn't mean to do it," Fornell said. "It's an accident."

jdickson@detroitnews.com