Explosion at Ann Arbor Welding building prompts evacuations in Pittsfield Township

Firefighters evacuate surrounding residents

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A mandatory evacuation was issued Thursday in Pittsfield Township after an explosion at a welding company on Carpenter Road.

Officials said the explosion was felt as far as five miles away, and it all started when a propane tank exploded. Authorities said someone looked away while filling a propane tank, and when they looked back, everything was on fire.

The fear was that it would ignite the other much larger tanks around it because they are filled with highly combustible butane, officials said.

Pittsfield Township firefighters poured some water on the building, but they said there's not much of a point. They said they're letting the gas tanks burn themselves off.

"We were roofing 200 yards away from there and a big boom -- you could feel it," a witness said. "I didn't know what was going on."

Ann Arbor Welding is right near U.S. 23, and customer Jim Peters just happened to be on the I-94 bridge when he saw the first explosion. He said he worried for the people he knew in the building.

"Got in back of the building and warned everybody to get ready and MSP started coming about 15 minutes later," Peters said. "Meanwhile, it was shaking the building. It was, 'Boom,' blowing up all the time."

Firefighters were concerned the larger tanks would explode, so they evacuated a square mile of residents.

You can watch Rod Meloni's full story in the video posted above.

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