Unprecedented conditions lead to Whitmer warning: 'Do not have fires outside'

2K remain without power after DTE fire in Plymouth

Mark HIcks
The Detroit News

About 2,000 DTE Energy customers remain without power Thursday evening following a fire at an electric substation Wednesday night.

"More than half of the customers have been restored and we're hoping the rest will be by midnight (Thursday)," said Carly Getz, a DTE Energy spokeswoman.

She said crews have rerouted circuits and provided portable generators and a portable substation to restore power to the area.

"For those receiving temporary generating at midnight, they might see a glitch when we restore power at midnight," she said. "The cooling center inside the local community center will remain open tonight and will have access to power."

It's still not clear exactly what caused the power outage, officials said.

Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock said Wednesday the blaze is believed to have originated at a transformer outside the Plymouth cultural center next to the substation at Theodore and Farmer.

Passersby reported hearing what sounded like an explosion about 8:20 p.m.

A fire at a DTE substation in Plymouth on Wednesday night has cut power to 4,000 customers, DTE said.

Flames were reported to be visible as far away as Allen Park. The intensity of the blaze slowed first responders, said Police Chief Al Cox. "It was very intense."

Michigan State Police and firefighters from Northville, and Plymouth and Northville townships responded.

Hours later, crews remained at the scene, watering down the cultural center and transformer.

A Western Wayne County hazardous materials team also responded as a precaution, Sincock said.

Crews work to extinguish a blaze that started as a result of an explosion at a DTE substation in Plymouth around 8:20 p.m. Aug. 16, 2017

Electricity was shut off for surrounding customers as DTE addresses the issue, Ryan Stowe, the company's executive director of distribution operations, said Wednesday.

Based in Detroit, DTE Energy serves more than 2.2 million electric customers in southeast Michigan and 1.3 million natural gas customers across the state.

Wednesday night, some residents walked around in the dark, navigating with cellphone lights.

"We've got some camping lights," said Cindy Crecelius, who was with her son Will.

The family lives near the cultural center and noticed the lights flickering around the time of the fire, she said. "We heard firecracker sounds, then a really loud boom, then the power went out."

Rhonda Lavigne was watering her grass when she heard hissing that intensified. Then "it just blew up," she said.

She saw shooting flames, then visitors at the cultural center screaming and fleeing.

"They didn't even go to their cars -- they just were running," she said.


Charles E. Ramirez and Sarah Rahal contributed.