OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – A massive gas line fire was ignited Monday night in Orion Township near the border of Auburn Hills, officials said.
Authorities said the fire involves a high-pressure gas main. When there's a high-pressure gas main leak, it causes a loud roar that comes out of the gas line, and it normally doesn't burn because there's so much pressure behind the gas that it can't burn through the force and air pressure.
But this time, it actually caught on fire. Gigantic flames lapped up into the air and bowls of flames burned out over time. Fire equipment was scattered everywhere as officials tried to assess the flames.
Roger Morgenstern, a spokesman for Consumers Energy, said the pipeline was a "long-term transportation" line and did not directly serve any customers. The pipeline is also not directly connected to any lines serving customers, so no danger is anticipated for Oakland County residents.
Morgenstern also said the 15-20 foot deep transportation pipeline, and others like it, undergo routine inspection every 7 years, and they have no reason to believe this problem will occur in other, similar lines.
Consumers Energy was able to shutting down the high-pressure line without any futher incident, or interruption of service to Oakland County residents.
The next step: figuring out what exactly caused the explosion.
"All I can tell you right now is that we did notice that there was a pressure drop on our natural gas system indicating that there was an issue somewhere," said Debra Dodd, of Consumers Energy. "We do have crews on site, but obviously with the amount of the flames, we can't get very near right now. Our first priority is to keep the public and our customers safe."
Officials were asking residents to avoid the area until the fire is out. Bumper-to-bumper traffic congested the nearby roads, and police had to shut down the area. Everything was clear by Monday morning.
"We have alarms on our system that indicate if pressure drops below a certain point, and that's what we noticed earlier tonight," Dodd said. "Some crews are there, and additional crews are coming."
Here is Tim Pamplin's update from 11 p.m.:
Brown Road was shut down between Joslyn and Baldwin roads due to the fire. It has reopened.
The Oakland County Sheriff's Office said the fire was on the north side of Brown Road, just west of Joslyn Road. It's impacting the area around Great Lakes Crossing mall, which is across I-75 from the fire.
Officials from the Orion Township Fire Department and Consumers Energy were at the scene. There have been no injuries reported.
"I don't know how we're going to -- we may be able to turn some valves and turn the flow of gas off, and that would obviously, you know, give the source of ignition a chance to die out," Dodd said. "But at this point, I'm not quite sure how we're going to go about that. We are trying to figure that out right now."
Dodd said as far as she knows, the fire was only burning on their system.
Here is the full interview with Dodd:
The sound from the fire is deafening, even from a quarter of a mile away.
Stay with ClickOnDetroit for updates.
Here is the latest breaking news update from Local 4 News at 11:
You could see the flames from Downtown Detroit and all over Metro Detroit. Take a look here: