Two killed, two injured in blast that leveled Wayne furniture store

WAYNE, Mich. (WXYZ) - Funeral arrangements have been set for the two people killed in Wednesday's blast at the William C. Franks furniture store.

Visitation for James Zell will be Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Funeral services will be Monday at St. John E. Lutheran Church at 2602 South Wayne Road in Westland at 11:00 a.m. Funeral arrangements for Leslie Machniak are private. The family says memorial contributions can be made to the Michigan Humane Society.

Sixity-four-year-old James Zell was the first confirmed fatality in the explosion at the furniture store. His body was found around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. Machniak's body was found around 10:30 p.m. Both were store employees.

Consumers Energy says the investigation into what caused the blast that took their lives could take weeks. Damage has been found to a two-inch gas line, but investigators are not sure if that caused the blast, or was a result of the explosion. The furniture store passed a fire inspection two weeks ago.

The explosion rocked William C. Franks Furniture store at Glenwood and Wayne Roads around 9:00 a.m. Wednesday. Crews from at least half a dozen jurisdictions responded to the scene.

At the time of the incident, police closed Wayne Road at Michigan Avenue, as well as parts of Simms and Glenwood. The blast also triggered evacuations in the neighborhood behind the scene. A number of businesses in the area remain evacuated.

Paul Franks, the furniture store owner, was pulled out of the rubble Wednesday morning. He was rushed to the University of Michigan hospital burn unit where he has been upgraded from critical to serious but stable condition. As he was removed from the rubble he was able to tell rescue workers that two people were still inside.

Another person driving by at the time of the blast was also injured. He is recovering right now in a local hospital and is expected to be ok.

A number of other businesses in the area were also damaged in the explosion. Officials are expected to address what happens to them next at the Thursday morning news conference.

The blast decimated the furniture store, blowing out both the front and back walls and causing the roof to collapse. Calls into our newsroom indicate that the explosion was felt as far as Garden City and Romulus, where it shook the windows and caused a brief power outage.

It is believed that the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak. Consumers Energy was called to the area on reports of a leak a few hours before the blast.

The mayor of Wayne, Abdul Haidous, said he has declared a state of emergency for the city. Haidous made the announcement Wednesday evening during a press conference. Mayor Haidous said he and the city council came to the decision around 7:50 p.m. and made their intentions known to Governor Granholm's office.

The Wayne Chamber of Commerce has set up a fund to help families affected by the disaster. You can donate to the William C. Franks Disaster Fund c/o the Wayne Westland Federal Credit Union at 500 S. Wayne Road in Westland. The phone number is (734) 721-5700.

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