Milford, MI – Elaine Fisher woke Tuesday morning to her dog’s howls, bits of glass in her bed, neighbors calling her name and a wall of her burning Elizabeth Street house missing.
She made it out safely before the entire structure collapsed. Investigators are working to determine the cause of an explosion and subsequent blaze, but there appears to have been a problem with a gas line.
Neighbors smelled gas before a window-rattling explosion at about 7:45 a.m.
Family members said Fisher, 53, was sleeping on the second floor when her dog, a German shepherd/Labrador mix named Kisses, started howling and nipping at her nightclothes.
The house’s south side wall, where the stairwell is, had fallen onto two vans parked in the driveway.
“She said there was fire all around,” said Fisher’s sister, Edie Schneider, of Melvindale. “She said she didn’t know how she got out.”
Fisher was the only person inside the house, which is on the 600 block of Elizabeth, east of Milford Road. Her husband, Roy, was at work.
Neighbor Michele Sumara said Fisher often watched the children of friends and neighbors at her house, but recently stopped because of health problems. Fisher even babysat Sumara, 30, when she was a child.
“If she would have been baby-sitting this morning, those kids would have been downstairs on the first floor,” she said.
Firefighters sprayed water late in the morning on smoldering hot spots within a tangle of twisted, blackened wood. Men in hard hats and bright yellow vests dug a hole near the base of the house’s driveway as deep as the height of a worker standing inside of it. The air had the odor of natural gas.
Milford Fire Chief Larry Waligora said MichCon workers found and fixed a gas leak at the street, but detectors were still picking up gas readings, indicating there was another leak. Waligora said it’s unclear whether the leak caused or was caused by the explosion. Len Singer, a spokesman for DTE Energy, of which MichCon is a subsidiary, said late Tuesday afternoon that investigators were still trying to determine what happened.