Gas leak repaired after explosion in Ecorse

Holly Fournier, and James David Dickson

Ecorse — A gas leak that caused a public park bathroom to explode early Thursday and forced the evacuation of nearby residents and students has been repaired, officials said.

Ecorse Public Safety Officer Darren Johnson takes up the slack as he and another police officer put police tape across West Jefferson at Outer Drive as area roads are shut down after a gas explosion at Dingell Park in Ecorse early Thursday morning.

By 2 p.m. DTE Energy Co. had fixed the broken gas main that caused the leak, DTE spokesman Scott Simons said. The cause of the break is under investigation.

Simons said he was not aware of any construction or utility work underway in the area near Dingell Park.

The leak caused the evacuation of about 100 nearby residents and businesses, and forced students at Grandport Elementary School to spend part of their day at Ecorse Community High School.

Police were first notified of the smell of gas near the park at about 3 a.m. Thursday. Police officers and firefighters responded and DTE was called.

The situation was thought to be resolved until there was an explosion in a park restroom between 6 and 7 a.m., Public Safety Director Michael Moore said.

The walls of the public restroom were still intact after the explosion, Simons said.

A restroom at Dingell Park exploded Thursday morning, but the facility’s walls are intact and no one was injured. Gas has been turned off as DTE Energy Co. investigates.

DTE arrived at the park by 7:41 a.m. and cut off power while police evacuated people. As calls came in, and the reach of the gas leak hit 7th Street, near Grandport, the school was evacuated.

By 1:15 p.m., authorities began allowing traffic to move and removed their perimeter.

Moore said the source of the gas was at 6th and White, which is around the block from the school and one block from where gas was observed blowing from a manhole at 7th and White streets.

There have been no reported injuries, officials said.

Sylvia Skotnicki, 66, who owns Sylvia’s Floral and Gifts at Outer Drive and Southfield Road, described a stressful scene near the park.

“I bought flowers this morning and I couldn’t even get into the shop to get them in water,” Skotnicki said. “Hopefully, everything will be OK tomorrow because I have a funeral.”

Skotnicki lives nearby, less than half a mile from the park. But she said she didn’t hear anything Thursday morning when the explosion occurred.

“We went out at 7 a.m. this morning for a doctor’s appointment and they had the traffic rerouted,” she said. “Coming back, it was even worse. Everything was all closed off.”

So far, she said she and her neighbors were still in their homes.

Sylvia Skotnicki, 66, of Ecorse, owner of Sylvia's Floral and Gifts, prepares to put Orchids in water that will be displayed on a casket tomorrow as her business is temporarily closed, Thursday, due to the explosion at Dingell Park.

Simons said residents who smell gas should walk a safe distance from their homes before calling DTE officials.

“Anything that can create a spark has a potential of igniting the gas,” he said.

Residents can contact DTE at (800) 477-4747 or by calling their emergency gas leak hotline at (800) 947-5000.

hfournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier

Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.