'I knew it wasn't fireworks': Condo explosion rocks Warren neighborhood; 1 dead
Warren — An explosion Sunday that left one person dead and sent debris throughout a neighborhood hit as many families embraced a rite of summer.
Amid barbecues and other outdoor activities for the Fourth of July, the blast leveled a condominium, damaged at least a half-dozen others and sent debris throughout the Villa Pointe neighborhood near Interstate 696 in Warren.
“This was more like a bomb,” said a neighbor, Hashin Bakari. “I knew this was not fireworks.”
A neighbor’s Ring video doorbell captured the catastrophic event — a huge mushroom plume rising from a roof, an explosion that sent debris flying, then flashes of yellow and red flames amid the smoke.
Mayor Jim Fouts described the scene in the 13700 block of Villa Pointe as “the biggest explosion we’ve had in recent history.”
A fire official on the scene told media there was one casualty in the condo next to where the explosion occurred. WDIV-TV (Channel 4) reported the body of a man was found in a basement, buried in debris.
Police and fire officials on the scene had not yet determined the cause of the blast and fire. An investigation was ongoing.
Consumers Energy’s Terry DeDoes said the company tested the system at the location of the explosion and found no leaks.
Evacuated neighbors gathered on a lawn nearby to learn when they could return to their homes. At 9:20 p.m., firefighters told residents some would be allowed to retrieve belongings.
Bakari, who has lived in the complex for 26 years, said he was in his house when he heard the explosion.
He thought a transformer had blown, he said, but saw debris raining down through the neighborhood.
He found debris scattered over the lawns of the condos, which are arranged in groups of connected units. Residents nearly half a mile away reported seeing the smoke plume and hearing the explosion. Some had debris on their lawn.
Peggy Farletta was returning home from work at about 6:40 p.m. when she got a call from a friend up north who told her about an explosion at a condo complex in Warren.
When she arrived and couldn’t get onto her street, she knew it was her complex. Forced to remain with evacuated neighbors, she could see her garage door was heavily damaged. She had no idea if her cat was OK.