Officials investigate suspicious odor near scene of deadly 2013 house explosion in Royal Oak

Odor said to be strongest near Coolidge Highway and 14 Mile Road

ROYAL OAK, Mich. - An investigation is underway in Royal Oak after many residents reported a heavy odor, officials said.

The odor is said to be strongest near the area of Coolidge Highway and 14 Mile Road.

City officials, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Consumers Energy have been working to figure out the cause of the smell. No evidence of natural gas has been found, officials said.

A meeting is expected to be held next week to address the results of the investigation.

People started smelling the odor in early October. The area is very close to the scene of a house explosion that killed a 58-year-old man in 2013. The memory of that blast has neighbors on edge.

The 2013 explosion on Cooper Avenue was caused by natural gas, so when neighbors started to smell something similar, they were scared.

"A man died," resident Mary Bishop said. "I think people are afraid, especially the ones that were around at that time."

Residents in neighborhoods north and south of 14 Mile Road between Woodward Avenue and Crooks Road have reported the odor.

"It was a dirty smell," resident Elain Conley said. "I mean, it wasn't like it would knock you out."

"There was a very strong gas smell in the neighborhood for a couple weeks off and on," Bishop said.

Some residents said they could even smell the foul odor inside their houses. Many were speculating about the cause of the smell.

The Royal Oak Fire Department has fielded numerous calls, as has Consumers Energy. Crews from both came out to test.

"We're not finding any evidence of natural gas," Assistant Fire Chief Jim Cook said. "Consumers isn't finding evidence either."

What's causing the smell? Nobody seems to know yet, but the MDEQ, Great Lakes Water Authority, Oakland County Drain and the cities of Royal Oak and Birmingham are all looking into it.

"We've got more sophisticated equipment taking air samples and water samples," Cook said. "We just did that today."

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