Many residents within a 3-mile radius of 13 Mile and Woodward Avenue felt a vibration and heard a boom at the end of the business day Wednesday.
The incident stemmed from a house exploding in the 4000 block of Cooper, near Massoit, at 5:06 p.m. Feb. 27.
“The residence was completely destroyed,” Police Lt. Dave Clemens said in a release. “A 58-year-old Royal Oak resident was found deceased at the location.”
Daniel R. Malczynski was the resident found dead at the scene, police said.
“We do not know if natural gas was involved at this time,” said Debra Dodd, spokeswoman for Consumers Energy. “We were replacing the gas main along Cooper Street. We did have employees working out on it earlier in the day.
“They had one home that was a total loss. The top of our minds, throughout all this, is that a man lost his life. Our thoughts go out to the family.”
Police said multiple residences close to the explosion sustained damage and the homeowners were evacuated for their safety through assistance from the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Dodd said about 30-35 nearby residences were damaged on Cooper and Elmwood, and that Consumers Energy is paying for immediate neighbors to stay at the pet-friendly Quality Inn, 2537 Rochester Ct. in Troy.
“I live near Coolidge and Normandy, not quite a half-mile from the explosion,” resident Larry Baker wrote on the Royal Oak Review’s Facebook page. “It rocked my house ... big vibration. My initial assumption was that a big branch must have fallen on the roof from the weight of the snow. But then I thought, wow, that sounded more like the entire tree. Went outside to check it out and the whole neighborhood was outside asking each other what happened.”
The Royal Oak Fire Department, Oakland County Fire Investigation Unit, Royal Oak Police and the National Transportation Safety Board, which is in charge of pipeline safety and is brought in for specific situations, are all working together on the investigation, officials said. Dodd said Consumers Energy was at the site Feb. 28 looking for the gas meter and any piping that could help determine the cause of the accident, but said an answer may not be known for quite some time.
“I’m conservatively saying months because you’re sending material to the lab,” Dodd said of the investigation.