Wayne, MI- Three people are believed to be inside William C. Franks Furniture at 2945 S. Wayne Road in Wayne when it exploded this morning around 9 a.m., just after the store opened for the day, City Manager John Zech said.

“At this point it appears to be a natural gas explosion,” he said.

The building is destroyed, the roof is caved into the floor, and the glass is blown out, he said.

Emergency responders are working to free the people inside, he said.

“As far as injuries go, it’s too early for me to comment,” he said.

But a patient was brought to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor after the explosion this morning, hospital spokeswoman Shantell Kirkendoll said.

A condition report is not available, but the hospital is known for its burn unit.

Another patient was taken to Oakwood Annapolis Hospital and is in stable condition, said hospital spokesman Dave Stanis. He did not have any information about the patient, although he said the hospital was preparing for other arrivals.

“We’re kind of waiting to see at this point,” he said.

Wayne Building Official Ed Rowe confirmed that emergency crews believe it was a gas explosion.

Rowe stood with his wife, Susan Rowe, a city councilwoman, near the scene. Susan Rowe said the furniture store is a longtime family-owned business that sells high-quality furniture. Its Web site says it has been in operation for 44 years.

“People come from all around to this store. Everyone this side of town knows Franks furniture,” she said.

Gary Meixner of Wayne rushed to the scene after hearing the news on TV. He was checking his brother’s house nearby at Elm and Wayne.

The Beaumont Hospital retiree said the rumors keep changing among the spectators gathered at the scene about what happened, “You can see there’s real damage. This is a fact,” he said looking at the cracked windows at his brother’s house.

Jena Moughler, 35, who lives within a few blocks on Glenwood, said the explosion woke her from a sound sleep.

“It sounded like a bomb went off,” said Moughler. She said the store has been “a fixture here.”

All streets near the furniture store are blocked with yellow tape. Buildings near the furniture store have shattered glass and debris is strewn along Wayne Road.

Ed Rowe said emergency crews told him there were at least 3 people at the building, but it was unclear whether those folks were still inside the building.

The office of colorectal surgeon Dr. Ganesh Deshmukh, which is across the street and slightly south of the furniture store, was open at the time of the explosion.

“It shook the whole building,” said Lori Julvezan, an employee at the office. “We thought a car had hit the building.”

She described smoke coming from the back of the building, which houses other businesses, and said the front had collapsed.

Julvezan said the office is still open, while businesses directly across the street, including Northside Hardware, were being evacuated, according to an employee who answered the phone at the store.

Ray and Tera Leffler were sleeping at their home two streets away at about 9 a.m. when the explosion shook the house.

”It felt like an earthquake. It shook everything,” said Ray Leffler, 35, of Wayne, who works in home remodeling.

Dozens of residents are milling around fire trucks and police cars waiting for news. Police are keeping residents more than a mile back from the scene of the devastated furniture store.

Ed Orzel was at home in Garden City, about 4 to 5 miles away from the furniture store. He said he felt a vibration when the building exploded.

“The guy two doors away from me said he thought a tree fell on his house,” Orzel said.

The explosion has closed down Wayne Road in the area of Glenwood and Wayne.

Neighboring fire departments assisting include Westland, Inkster, Romulus, Garden City, Canton and Taylor, Zech said.

There will be a news conference at noon at City Hall, the city manager said.