Melvindale explosion: Car crashes into gas line

Driver crashes into gas main, sparking explosion, DTE Energy says

By Halston Herrera - Digital news editor, Nick Monacelli - Reporter, Jermont Terry - Reporter

MELVINDALE, Mich. - More than a dozen streets in Melvindale were evacuated early Saturday after a natural gas explosion.

The explosion happened at about 3 a.m. near Allen and Greenfield roads -- as a precaution, the fire department evacuated everyone in a surrounding area north of the scene.

All of the evacuations were lifted at 9 a.m. 

“I was sleeping, got knocked out of the bed,” said Ed Bagdasarian. “It was just a big boom. It sounded like a locomotive for about 20 minutes.” 

Watch: Raw video of the gas explosion in Melvindale

What happened

DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons said a car crashed through a fence at one if their training facilities and hit a large natural gas line. Simons said crews were on the scene in 10 minutes and turned off the gas source. 

Two buildings in the facility's complex caught fire as a result of the explosion - but no injuries were reported at the facility.

Related: Video shows aftermath of Melvindale gas explosion

Those that live closest to the explosion said it was one of the most horrific things they've ever seen.

"Very scary, very scary," one person said.

"It was huge -- a fireball," another person said.

As buildings were burning and townhomes were melting, many people were already leaving.

"We left on our own because we could feel the heat -- all we needed was a marshmallow," one person said.

Related: Witnesses describe scene near Melvindale gas explosion site

Soon, police officers from Melvindale and nearby cities were driving up and down the streets, knocking on doors and carrying senior citizens.

Three evacuation shelters were set up, including one at Inter-City Baptist High School, where the community response team and Salvation Army were waiting.

Driver hospitalized

Melvindale Police Chief Chad Hayse said the driver of the car was going southbound on Greenfield Road when he veered off the road and hit a gas pipe. The 24-year-old male driver was taken to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn. He is listed in stable condition. 

Police say he wasn't initially able to exit the vehicle after the crash, a friend who was following him in another car helped him out.

Officials said alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Related: Alcohol was a factor in crash which caused Melvindale explosion

Watch update from police chief 

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