Chief Robert Smith says that the home had a propane tank, but it was off when responders inspected it. The investigation into the explosion that killed a man and woman continues. James David Dickson, The Detroit News


Orion Township —  After her home exploded and a fire broke out, Kim Dominguez tried to escape down a stairwell. But it didn't exist anymore.

The 29-year-old was rescued from the burning home by her neighbor, David Moen. Police are calling him a hero.

Kim's parents, Kathy and Bruce Dominguez, 57 and 65, respectively, were unable to escape and died in the fire that saw flames reach 60 feet at their peak.

Bruce, in the same time gap that allowed his daughter to be saved, made two cellphone calls to friends telling them he was trapped in the rubble, but none to 911, said Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett.

But his next door neighbors did call. And their across-the-street neighbors called. And people from as far as two miles away called as well.

"We have a tight-knit community," Barnett said.

Crews responded about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday to the home in the 400 block of Coats Road, the Orion Township Fire Department said. One body was found during a search and the second body unearthed after crews used an excavator in the rubble.

Barnett got a call about the fire as well, and arrived minutes later. That's when he saw the 60-foot flames that towered over trees.

Kim Dominguez was examined at the scene by paramedics and later taken by a friend to Crittenton Hospital in Rochester Hills for further treatment, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Thursday,

The explosion is under investigation and the department said it could be several days before the cause is determined. Fire Chief Robert Smith told reporters that the home had a propane tank, but it was off at the time. He said arson wasn’t suspected.

“Our crews worked tirelessly to see to it that this fire was brought under control as soon as possible,” Smith said.

Shortly before noon Thursday, smoke escaped the wreckage in what fire officials call a "rekindling," which happens when hot spots remain after most of a fire has been extinguished.

A yellow fire truck pulled onto the scene, and a firefighter removed the yellow tape closing off the scene to let it pass so firefighters could douse the debris with more water.

The Oakland County sheriff’s department fire investigation unit is assisting in the investigation. Undersheriff Mike McCabe said in an email that Bruce Dominguez was remodeling the home and also had used the home’s basement to reload ammunition.

Firefighters from Brandon, Oxford and Independence townships assisted at the scene Wednesday, hauling in water via tanker trunks because the nearest fire hydrant was about a mile from the home.

In addition to Kim, Kathy and Bruce are survived by two daughters serving in the U.S. Air Force — one out of state in South Carolina, one out of the country in Japan. Both are headed back to Michigan.

Autopsies are expected to be performed on the victims Thursday.

Barnett said his office has had "dozens" of requests to help the Dominguez family, but said that what the family and neighbors need at the moment is privacy.

"We don't need people here," Barnett said.

Whatever help given will be a concerted effort, he said.

"There will be a time for all that," Barnett said. "But not today."

Staff Writer Mike Martindale and the Associated Press contributed.

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