Chief: 1 dead, child missing after Flint home explosion

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — At least one person died and a 3-year-old child remained missing Tuesday after an overnight explosion and fire destroyed three homes in Michigan, damaged several others and sent debris falling onto a neighborhood, authorities said.

Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton said Tuesday that two people were rushed from the scene Monday night to area hospitals, where one of them — a 70-year-old man — was pronounced dead while the father of the missing child was in critical condition.

Another person reported minor injuries following the explosion, which destroyed three homes in the neighborhood on Flint’s west side, WJRT-TV reported.

Barton said that 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.

“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 a total of seven homes, including three that he said were destroyed by the blast.

Wheeler said Tuesday morning the utility had 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.