Redford family says power was never cut to downed wire that burned down garage

As tens of thousands of homes plead for their power to be turned back on, there was one Redford Township family that asked for anything but after a downed wire fell across their garage.

What ensued was a cruel irony when sparks peppered the structure, which was detached from the home. It then started a fire, which torched the building and all the family's possessions inside.

"I was just thinking 'Oh my God, our garage is going up. We're losing our garage'. I was just praying it didn't hit our house," said Gail Prohaska.

Gail lives with her husband Dan at a home on Columbia Avenue in Redford Township.

Like hundreds of thousands of other homes across Metro Detroit, issues for the Prohaskas started Feb. 23 when severe weather blew through the region. It left behind outages, thick layers of ice, and dangerous conditions where live wires fell on streets, yards, and other residential structures.

"You're helpless. It's just a helpless feeling," said Gail.

The couple took cell phone footage of the early scenes of smoke coming from a wire that had fallen from the neighbor's property onto their garage. From there, flashes of blue light before flickers of orange flame started. 

"Tell me this doesn't suck," said Dan, watching a firefighter trying to put out flames surrounded by smoke.

The power line was likely downed by a falling branch. The Redford Fire Department made two trips out to the home to see if they could offer some remedies, but without the power being cut, there was nothing they could do.

"They more or less told us if the garage had gone up, there's not much else they can do because it was electrical," said Gail.

Then, less than 24 hours later, it ignited. 

"Probably within 40 minutes, this is what you see," said Dan, who gestured to the scene behind him.

It was the charred remains of a burned out garage. Inside were "two apartments worth" of possessions from the couple and their kids who had gone off to college. There was also work equipment and camping equipment that burned up. 

"I was in tears. You hear about it happening to other people, not to yourself and here it is happening to us,," Gail said. "I was just grateful it didn't get our house."

It's unclear why DTE didn't cut the power initially. 

In a statement, the utility said it was aware of the incident and are "working with local officials to investigate."

"The severe ice storm that swept through Michigan beginning February 22 caused extensive damage, including thousands of downed power lines," read the statement.

Power issues have continued plaguing the region after two more storms that struck the region left it without power. More wind gusts in the days after the ice storm, then another snow storm that came with really wet precipitation that weighed down more power lines. 

As of March 6, there were 25,000 customers still without power. DTE has promised 95% of homes will have their power back by the end of Monday.