Melvindale gas explosion recap: How a drunk driver caused the evacuations

The explosions from a Melvindale what around 3 a.m. Saturday were heard from miles away.

“I could see the smoke from my house and I leave eight or 10 miles away,” said Melvindale Police Department Chief Chad Hayse.

The explosion was caused when a car crashed through a fence at a DTE training facility, striking a 500 lbs gas main valve on Greenfield Road near Allen Road.

“It’s a single-vehicle crash. The driver was coming southbound on Greenfield and made a sharp left-hand turn, when they should have made a right-hand turn,” Hayse said.

Emergency crews shut off the gas about 10 minutes later. Meanwhile those living in a 18 block area, primarily north of the scene, were ordered to evacuate.

The all-clear was given to return home around 9 a.m.

“Working with the Dearborn and Melvindale fire and police, we were able to mitigate the issues here,” said Paula Silver of DTE communications. “I’m happy that no one else was hurt in the community and our residents are safe.”
The only injuries were to the 24-year-old man driving the car, who police say was possibly driving drunk.

“His friend was following him in a second car,” Hayse said. “The friend helped him get out of the car. The driver did receive some burns.”

Police said the driver probably would not have survived if the second driver wasn’t there to save him.
Included in this article are photos of repair crews working on the scene.