A home on Le Fever Avenue, north of Eight Mile Road and East of Ryan Road, exploded at 5:40 p.m. Nov. 30.

A home on Le Fever Avenue, north of Eight Mile Road and East of Ryan Road, exploded at 5:40 p.m. Nov. 30.

Photo by Brian Louwers


Fire official: Equipment failure likely caused home explosion in Warren

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published December 2, 2019

 The explosion blew the structure apart and the resulting fire burned its contents.

The explosion blew the structure apart and the resulting fire burned its contents.

Photo by Brian Louwers

“If anyone was at home at the time, the assumption would be they would have been a casualty. You don’t just walk away from that.”

Skip McAdams, Warren Fire Commissioner

WARREN — Brandy Brown was on her way home just before 6 p.m. Nov. 30 when she got a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize. The unknown caller left a message.

“Two seconds into the voicemail they’re calling again. It was Becky, a dispatcher,” Brown said Dec. 2, standing next to the obliterated remains of her family’s home since 1990 on Le Fever Avenue, near Eight Mile and Ryan roads. 

Brown’s mother, who has a barbershop nearby, was working that night. 

Fire officials now believe an equipment failure of some type led to a natural gas build-up that ignited and caused a catastrophic explosion. Thankfully, no one was injured or killed. But Brown and her mother returned to the home to find the structure and its contents, the adjacent garage and vehicles, all destroyed. She said her father died a few months ago. 

“I lost everything. Everything. Pictures, memories, my dad’s belongings were in here,” Brown said. “So I have nothing. I don’t even have a picture of my dad, only what’s on my phone.”

Warren Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams said the first units were dispatched at 7:40 p.m. and arrived to find the home fully engulfed in flames. Video posted on social media showed a huge fireball that burned the wreckage. 

“We’re thinking some kind of equipment failure: furnace, hot water tank, dryer, stove, one of the four. It has all the indicators of a gas leak,” McAdams said. “We’re going to get Belfor to drain the basement so that we can get a look at the appliances.”

The Warren Fire Department photographed the gas meter and observed as it was removed and sent for analysis. McAdams said a preliminary assessment by Consumers Energy showed their equipment performed properly, but that the explosion remained under investigation at press time.

A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said she was in her basement when the explosion happened.  

“My whole basement lit up orange,” she said. “They’re an amazing family. They’re the kind of neighbors you want to have.”

Brown said she was at Macomb Mall returning merchandise before she headed back home. The errand took a bit longer because of a cash register problem. 

The glitch might have saved her life.  

“Had the register not frozen up, I would have been here and anyone that knows me knows that when I sit down on the bed, I’m out. I’m a hard sleeper,” Brown said. 

McAdams said the force of the blast left the front door on the curb across the street.

“If anyone was at home at the time, the assumption would be they would have been a casualty,” McAdams said. “You don’t just walk away from that.”

He advised all homeowners to keep a carbon monoxide detector in constant operation, along with a smoke detector.

Anyone wishing to assist Brown and her family can call (586) 799-2231. A GoFundMe effort has been started at  www.gofundme.com/f/by23d-total-loss.