Detroit, MI- As fire officials work to pinpoint the cause of a weekend explosion that leveled two east side homes, family members of the survivors are counting their blessings.
Vivian Avner said this afternoon that it’s a miracle her great-niece, Tatiand Russell, and Russell’s three young children are alive following the 9:45 a.m. blast in the 3540 block of Farnsworth near Moran that damaged homes up to a half-mile away on Saturday.
“Something like this catches everyone off balance. We are so lucky and fortunate that nobody perished,” said Avner, 64, of Detroit. “There’s nothing left. They don’t even have shoes to put on their feet.”
Fire officials say the damage was most likely caused by a natural gas explosion but it will take a few more days to determine if the gas line had been manipulated.
“We will be looking to see if someone rigged a gas line,” said Lt. Omar Davidson of the Detroit Fire Department’s Arson Section. “If people actually manage to manipulate the gas lines and bypass the meter to run gas directly in the house it can be extremely dangerous.”
Davidson said when gas travels from the street to the meter there are about 10 pounds of pressure that must be filtered before gas enters the house.
“If it’s not being regulated the sky is the limit to the damage or injury it can cause,” he said.
Avner said Russell, who is in good condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital, was asleep when the explosion occurred.
“She could feel herself shaking she opened her eyes and was outside buried under the rubble, looking for her kids. The neighbors were digging and trying to help,” Avner said.
Russell’s son, Marvell, 13, is in good condition and two daughters Kurtsheana, 11, and Nyana, 4, in serious condition at Children’s Hospital of Detroit, officials said. A friend of Russell’s, whose name has not been released, also inside during the explosion, is believed to have been released from the hospital after suffering only minor injuries.
Avner said Russell, an aspiring rapper, has been promoting CDs at local Wal-Mart and Kmart stores and is currently unemployed.
The family hopes to set up a fund in her name to collect donations this week.
DTE Energy Spokesman Scott Simons said today accounts at both houses — Russell’s and the vacant next-door property — were inactive.