Four people were seriously injured early Thursday, Feb. 23 in an apparent natural gas explosion and fire at the Lighthouse Landing apartment building in the area of 14 Mile and Walled Lake Drive in Walled Lake.
Public safety officials at the scene reported three males and a female had self evacuated from the building at around 6 a.m.
According to Walled Lake Police Chief Paul Shakinas, a 17-year-old female was initially hospitalized in stable condition with burns to her face and hands. She has since been discharged from the hospital.
An 18-year-old male is hospitalized in stable condition with burns on approximately 17 percent of his body, according to Shakinas. He said a 23-year-old male victim is hospitalized in critical condition with severe burns on his face and hands. The man has burns over 60 percent of his body. Shakinas said the fourth victim, a 25-year-old man, is hospitalized and listed in very critical condition with burns on 75 percent of his body.
Public safety officials are concerned that extensive damage to the apartment building could cause its roof to collapse. Shakinas said Walled Lake code enforcement personnel determined the building is unsafe for occupancy.
The Red Cross responded to the scene to provide assistance to other residents of the building, which is made up of approximately 10 units. According to Shakinas, the Red Cross provided clothing and supplies to the building’s residents and made arrangements for those residents to stay in an area hotel for at least three nights.
Walled Lake, Wixom and Novi firefighters were dispatched to the scene shortly before 6 a.m., along with ambulance units from multiple agencies.
A resident of the area said he was watching TV around 5:45 a.m. when he “heard a boom.”
“Flames were shooting up out of the back of the building,” said the man, who didn’t want to be identified.
Shakinas said investigators have determined that natural gas caused the blast and fire. He added that the residents of the apartment unit where the explosion and fire occurred reportedly had removed the apartment’s stove cooktop on Wednesday, Feb. 22 for some sort of work. He added that he’s concerned that the cooktop wasn’t capped properly after the work.
Debra M. Dodd, a senior public information director for Consumers Energy, said earlier that the company’s gas lines in the area had been checked, were intact and were functioning properly. She added that if the explosion was related to natural gas, it was because of some kind of problem inside the building.