(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov.20, 2017)
Orion Township, MI – Natural gas from a broken line caught fire at about 10pm Monday night closing down Brown Road between Josyln and Baldwin Roads on the border of Orion Township and Auburn Hills. Meijer and other stores in nearby shopping centers were evacuated and the area remained closed to traffic through at lead midnight while firefighters stopped the flames and accessed the damage.
At the same time as the fire, emergency 911 service was knocked out for the Oakland County Sheriff’s office and the 15 communities that they handle policing for. Until the service is restored, people area asked to call 248-858-4930 if there is an emergency.
When asked what happened, Orion Township Interim Fire Chief John Pender said “Our guys got a call for a gas leak and when they got here they heard it hissing. They were getting ready to start evacuating the area and it lit off, so they immediately backed off and called for a box alarm which got us a lot of different resources, and waited for Consumers [Energy] to shut it down.” He described the fire as being 100 feet in the air and 50 feet around.
Joe Cain and his mother were at the movie theater at Great Lakes Crossing when the fire started. “It was intense. We were at the GLC movie theater. We were shocked to see it as soon as we walked out. You could actually feel the heat from where we were standing. It was like a constant but somehow contained ball of fire that looked like it wouldn’t stop. Like it should’ve burned down already but just would not.”
Cain shared his video of the fire with Oakland County Times. The video and a subsequent press conference with Sheriff Bouchard and Interim Fire Chief Pender is below…
At 2:35am OCSO released the following update:
All 911 and non-emergency 10 digit telephone services at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and countywide PSAPs are fully restored.
Updated information on the fire in Orion Township:
We inspected the site of the ruptured gas line and surrounding area and found nothing suspicious or unusual relating to an intentional act. We are not aware of any injuries directly relating to the explosion and fire in Orion Township
Consumers will remain on scene throughout the night along with Orion FD/mutual aid who are still putting out brush fires and trees while Deputies will assist with traffic and site security.
Gas service to all Oakland County residents was not disrupted. No other services were disrupted to local residents.
All roadways will open to the public by 4:00 AM on November 21st and the explosion will NOT affect Schools, businesses or other activities.
Consumers Power is requesting OCSO Aviation in the morning with aerial footage of the scene for their investigation.
Deputies and OCSO Investigators will also re-examine the area during day light hours