41ºF

Hear from Oakland County neighbors who witnessed house explosion possibly caused by drug operation

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.

Neighbors said the house had been there for more than 50 years. The blast was caused by so much pressure that the window casings were blown dozens of feet from the house.

“It was pretty crazy,” neighbor Brad McDonald said. “We didn’t know if our house was going to catch fire, and the ones next door.”

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

McDonald said the explosion jolted him out of bed.

“We had some stuff fall off the walls because it shook the house, and our cars were here, so I had to move the cars so the fire department could get in here," McDonald said.

The explosion lifted the roof off the home and burned most of it to the ground, firefighters said.

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)

Neighbors helped save the injured men.

“They came in here and heard somebody moaning on their side of the fence, so they jumped the fence and what had happened -- one of the young men had been blown out of the house onto the side yard over here,” McDonald said. “So they grabbed him and pulled him out of harm’s way, and they had blood on their hands from grabbing this young man.”

The gas and electric have been turned off, but the house is a total loss, firefighters said.

Investigators want to know more about the cause of the explosion because it wasn’t the result of natural gas lines. They want to further investigate the possibility of hash oil manufacturing, according to authorities.

Both of the injured 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.


About the Authors: