Two die in house explosion believed to have been caused by natural gas leak

THETFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) (WXYZ) - Authorities say two people are dead and one is injured after an explosion and fire at a home in Genesee County following a report of a natural gas leak.

Dave and Sue Miller died after the blast, which happened Tuesday afternoon at a home in Thetford Township. Clio Area Fire Chief Gary Domerese says the homeowner was digging with a backhoe nearby and hit a gas line.

Domerese says authorities are investigating what led the gas to explode. He says the homeowner reported the leak to Consumers Energy and a technician came to the home, but the home exploded as the technician went to a truck to get tools and call for other workers.

Consumers Energy has the following list of  things to do immediately in response to a natural gas leak.


Signs of a natural gas leak include:


  • A "rotten egg" odor
  • A blowing or hissing sound
  • Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area
  • Flames, if a leak has ignited
  • Dirt or dust blowing from a hole in the ground
  • Bubbling in wet or flooded areas


If you suspect a natural gas leak, follow these steps:

  • Leave the area immediately and call us at 1-800-477-5050, then follow our instructions
  • Do not use any electrical device, such as light switches, telephones or appliances such as garage door openers. They could spark and ignite the gas.
  • Do not use an open flame, matches or lighters
  • Do not try to locate the source of the gas leak
  • Do not try to shut off any gas valves or appliances
  • Do not start vehicles
  • Do not re-enter the building or return to the area until a Consumers Energy employee says it's safe to do so
  • If the natural gas ignites, let it burn. Do not put out the flame; burning gas will not explode.
  • If you are digging and think you may have damaged a natural gas pipeline, leave the area immediately. If you are using motorized equipment and can turn off the motor safely, do so to prevent the ignition of any leaking gas. Then abandon the equipment and leave the area. Never restart equipment until the surrounding environment has been checked and declared safe.


It is important that you call about natural gas emergencies. Do not e-mail us.

  • If you think you have a natural gas emergency, go to a safe location. Then call Consumers Energy toll-free at 1-800-477-5050.
  • If you see unusual activity near a natural gas pipeline or facility, call us immediately at 1-800-477-5050

Consumers Energy says if you recognize any of these signs call them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The company will respond promptly and at no charge.

The company also says that there are safety precautions that you can take to protect yourself.

Help prevent a gas emergency in your home with these safety tips:

  • Natural gas lines should not be installed from the meter to any other buildings in which people live
  • No building or other structure may be built over any natural gas pipeline
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions in operating and caring for natural gas appliances, and use each appliance for its intended purpose
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids indoors or in the same room or area as a gas appliance or other ignition source
  • After a flood or other disaster, check for the odor of gas before entering any area.  If gas is detected, leave the area immediately and call (800) 477-5050.  Replace any appliance submerged in water
  • Ensure fuel-burning appliances are installed, used and maintained properly and safely.  Hire a qualified technician to inspect heating and venting equipment annually, and use a carbon monoxide alarm that meets current standards.
  • Use a broom to keep gas meters, pipes and other service equipment clear in winter.  Gas-appliance chimneys and vents must be cleared after snow and ice storms to ensure proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.
  • Ensure gas space heaters are installed by a qualified professional and used and maintained properly
  • Don't use fuel lines for storage. Heavy coats or other items hanging from a fuel line (often located near the ceiling in basements) can stress the joints in the pipe and cause gas leaks. Don't allow children to swing on the pipes, either
  • Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees or lower.  Check the water temperature before placing a child in the bathtub, and never leave a child alone or with other young children in the bathtub.
  • Replace flexible connectors. Cracks can form and cause serious gas leaks in these flexible pipes that attach appliances to fuel lines. Limit the number of times you move natural gas appliances, and replace flexible connectors at least every 10 years with an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved model.
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