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Drug operation inside Oakland County home might have caused explosion that threw 2 men from house

2 men seriously injured in Commerce Township house explosion

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Police believe a drug operation inside an Oakland County home might be responsible for causing an explosion that rocked a neighborhood and threw two men from the house.

The explosion happened around 12:30 a.m. Thursday at a home on Arbutus Street near the intersection of Newton and Commerce roads in Commerce Township, officials said.

Tony Lempert, who lives five doors down, has a security camera that recorded the explosion, which he said knocked him off the couch.

“It was a large, huge explosion,” Lempert said. “I didn’t know what was going on. My daughter’s car alarm went off.”

He ran down the street and saw a home in the 3200 block of Arbutus Street burning.

A Commerce Township house that exploded on Sept. 24, 2020.
A Commerce Township house that exploded on Sept. 24, 2020. (WDIV)

Two men, battered and bloody, had been thrown from the building, Lempert said. Firefighters confirmed the men were found outside the building.

When medical officials took one of the men away, Lempert found the situation strange.

“The guy they brought out on a stretcher had a yellow down jacket on, torn to shreds, and there’s feathers flying out down the road and I immediately thought, ‘Why did this guy have a coat on?’ It wasn’t cold,” Lempert said.

Firefighters said the blast caught their attention because usually they have simple fires. When they arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters removed canisters that looked like propane tanks out of the house. Commerce Township fire Chief Jim Dundas said the canisters weren’t for propane.

“In putting the fire out, our guys did find several butane tanks,” Dundas said. “We found at least six.”

Beyond the safety concerns, a call went out to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office for an investigator.

“Butane is a very flammable, potentially explosive gas, and it lends itself to the idea that hey could have been processing marijuana,” Dundas said.

Butane tanks removed from a Commerce Township house that exploded on Sept. 24, 2020, firefighters said.
Butane tanks removed from a Commerce Township house that exploded on Sept. 24, 2020, firefighters said. (WDIV)

“It’s mind-blowing to think that this was so close,” Lempert said. “We had no idea.”

Authorities want to speak to the men who were in the house at the time of the explosion.

Both men are in their mid- to late 20s and are residents of Commerce Township, police said. One was taken to Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital in serious condition, and the other was taken to Novi Providence Hospital for minor injuries, according to authorities.

Officials said the house is a total loss.


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