'It could have been me': Inkster resident near house explosion site had gas line problem days before
INKSTER, Mich. (FOX 2) - We are learning an elderly neighbor in the area of Tuesday's house explosion had problems with their gas line in the days before the explosion-- and he says allegedly DTE Energy knew about it.
An elderly man who lives nearby survived a scary incident days earlier - and was saved by the bravery of a good friend.
"I went to open the door and the gas fumes hit me so bad, I flew back," said Sidney Crawford.
Those fumes – natural gas have sulfur added to it, to make sure you know you’re in trouble.
FOX 2: "You could have died."
"Yeah I know it ," said resident Ron Johnson.
In a back bedroom bedridden, Johnson, 87, lives in an Inkster home off Florence Street for 60 years. He has no sense of smell. Hours before that eggy scent took over earlier this week, DTE had done work at his home, replacing a basement meter, moving it outside.
"Bang, bang, shaking the house and all that," he said.
All that banging was part of a major project in Inkster - that included gas line work too.
Johnson says – DTE workers reported his meter work was done and left. Not soon after, came the gas leak and a timely save.
"I put my hoodie over my face and was running in," Crawford said.
The longtime neighbor saved the day, opening all the windows and called police and fire – who we confirmed responded.
Then – he got DTE back out, who Johnson says, told him this.
"Only thing they did was they went back said they found two leaks and they fixed them," Johnson said. "And that's when the guy told me the line going to my kitchen stove got a new valve on it only been on two years.That line has been leaking."
Ron Johnson is suspicious of the timing of it all. He even laughed when asked about coincidences. Then, after his gas leak he turned on the news to see a home had exploded a half-mile from where he lives.
"I said, I'll be damned," he said.
The house off Penn Street in Inkster was leveled, after it exploded Tuesday – a man who lived there in critical condition with burns on 35-percent of his body.
"It could have been me and Ron, we could have been dead," said Crawford.
A spokesperson with DTE – told us by email that the leak over at Johnson’s house stemmed from a faulty hook up to his stove. And said all of DTE's equipment was in working order.
"It wasn't the stove. It was whatever they installed,"Crawford said.
Johnson isn’t angling for a lawsuit but wants to put his neighbors on notice, as gas line work continues out here.
"I learned a long time ago if you don't speak up, you're a rug," he said, "and they're going to walk on you."
DTE released a statement about the situation saying:
"Our crew initially tested the natural gas line for a leak and found that all of DTE’s equipment was in proper working order. However, our crew found that a number of the customers’ fuel lines in the home attached to appliances – which are the customer’s responsibility – had issues. We were able to address a few of the issues onsite, but recommended the customer reach out to a service professional to fix one of the fuel lines. We tagged that area and shut off the line that required addressing. When the customer called us back, the system was in a state that we could relight the appliances."