Flint home explosion: 2 dead after 3-year-old girl's remains believed to have been found, family says

A 3-year-old girl who was missing for more than 12 hours after a devastating home explosion in Flint is believed to have been found at the scene. 

Athena Simerson is the grandmother of the little girl. She told FOX 2's Jessica Dupnack that police notified the family that a body was found and it was presumed to be the girl. She identified her granddaughter as NuVeah Lucas.

Simerson said there has been no cause determined but it's suspected to have been due to a gas leak. 

RELATED: Video shows fatal home explosion in Flint 

NuVeah's mom and her mom's boyfriend, David Brown, were both in the home at the time of the explosion. Her mother was hospitalized but released while Brown is in critical condition with burns to more than 70% of his body.

Family members said they tried to save NuVeah after the blast but were unable.

"I guess the initial explosion happened and he [Brown] went over her [NuVeah] to protect her," the girl's grandma said.

The explosion and fire destroyed three homes in Michigan, damaged several others and sent debris falling onto a neighborhood, authorities said.

The other victim killed in the fire was a 55-year-old woman who lived in the house next door. 

A fundraiser has been set up for the family of NuVeah on Facebook.

Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton said Tuesday that two people were rushed from the scene Monday night to area hospitals, the girl's parents.

Barton said a Michigan State Police cadaver dog and fire crews with specialized equipment were searching for the 3-year-old.

"This is a tragic time for our community," Mayor Sheldon Neeley said during a Tuesday morning news conference.

Three houses were fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at the scene after 9:30 p.m. Monday. Officials said around 20 houses sustained damage, including broken windows from debris thrown across an entire block by the explosion, which was felt miles away.

The cause of the explosion, which left the neighborhood littered with splintered wood and other debris, was under investigation, Neeley said.

Aisha Lott, who lives nearby, said she felt an explosion and the blast rocked her house.

Family members said NuVeah was believed to have been found in the debris after a home explosion in Flint.

"It was like a really loud boom, and my house shook," she told WJRT-TV.

Consumers Energy spokesman Brian Wheeler said the utility received a call about 9:40 p.m. Monday about the house explosion and crews sent to the scene shut off natural gas and electric service to seven homes, including three that he said were destroyed by the blast.

Wheeler said Tuesday morning that the utility found no evidence of gas leaks or other issues with Consumers Energy’s gas system that runs to the house that exploded. He said the utility is working with local authorities to investigate the explosion.

"Our thoughts this morning go to the residents of this neighborhood and their loved ones," the utility said in a statement.

At least two people have died including a 3-year-old girl in a home explosion in Flint.