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Detroit — Fire authorities examining debris from a blast that destroyed a house over the weekend and sent six people to a hospital say it has tell-tale signs of a natural gas explosion.

Six men and women between the ages of 23 and 39, were hospitalized at Detroit Receiving Hospital with burns and smoke inhalation after the explosion on the 14400 block of Evergreen Road at about 7:20 p.m. Saturday, said David Fornell, Detroit deputy fire commissioner. Fornell had no update Sunday on the status of the victims.

A dog also was rescued after being buried in debris from the explosion, according to the Detroit Pit Crew Dog Rescue.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation by the Detroit Fire Department, which  is working to clear the debris, and DTE Energy.

"The debris field is consistent with a natural gas explosion," said Fornell. "The problem is that there's so much debris there that they're going to have to remove a substantial amount ... before a cause can be determined."

The explosion did not appear to have damaged buildings on either side of the house two-story house.

Natural gas explosions occur in Detroit one to two times a year, Fornell said. Explosions can be caused by thieves stealing a home's furnace and failing to turn off the gas connection to the house or by defective appliances.

A door and a window appeared intact on first floor of the home on Detroit's west side on Sunday, with the upper level of the house completely exposed to the elements. Two satellite dishes once positioned on the roof tumbled from their perch as portions of the roof drooped over the side of the house. Bricks and lumber from the house were strewn throughout the yard. A light dusting of Sunday's snow gave the scene an eerie look.     

A post by the Detroit Pit Crew rescue said a dog who had been buried alive in the explosion was doing well and continuing to receive care at an animal emergency facility.

"... She has a broken pelvis as well as some superficial bumps and bruises," the post said. "Thankfully she is expected to make a full recovery. We again (want) to say (thank) you to the Detroit Fire Department, Detroit Police Department, DTE Energy workers and agents from the ATF for digging for 45 minutes through the rubble to save her life! We promise that better days are ahead for this sweet girl. Donations towards her care are very much appreciated" at www.facebook.com/Detroitpitcrew/.

Safety is DTE's priority, said Je'well Pearson, senior communications strategist at DTE Energy. 

"We urge all residents, in any situation, if you smell or suspect a gas leak to leave the area at once, call 911, then call DTE at (800) 947-5000 (or your natural gas provider), to report the situation," Pearson said.

ecarter@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @EvanJamesCarter

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