Explosion levels vacant home near Lowell; 2 injured

Kent County

VERGENNES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities in Kent County are investigating after an explosion destroyed a vacant building early Monday morning.

Dispatchers confirmed calls came in for a possible fire just before 3 a.m. Monday at a nearby vacant building near the intersection of 3 Mile Road and Fallasburg Park Drive in Vergennes Township.

Fire crews say when they got there, the home was leveled and there was a small fire out back.

A Dec. 16, 2019 photo shows the aftermath of an explosion at a vacant home in Kent County’s Vergennes Township.

“I’ve been doing this for almost 31 years and we’ve never had anything of this magnitude of an explosion,” said Lowell Area Fire Department Chief Ron VanOverbeek. “So it was pretty shocking.”

A News 8 crew on scene saw evidence consistent with an explosion—with splinters of wood and other debris scattered across the property.

Pieces of a vacant building destroyed by an explosion in Vergennes Township Monday, Dec. 16, 2019.
Pieces of a vacant building destroyed by an explosion in Vergennes Township Monday, Dec. 16, 2019.

Several neighbors reported hearing and feeling the explosion while inside their homes, some as far away as Ionia and Sarnac. Some say the blast was so loud, they rushed to the scene to see what happened and if they could help.

“I’m still kind of shaking from the adrenaline of just hearing that giant boom,” said neighbor Addie Hornbrook. “It literally sounded like a bomb had gone off.”

A Dec. 16, 2019 photo shows debris left behind by an explosion at a vacant home in Kent County’s Vergennes Township.

Investigators say several homeowners also reported damage to their homes from the explosion. They say the worst of the secondary damage happened to the home next door, where large portions of the siding were caving in Monday.

A Dec. 16, 2019 photo shows the damage to another home caused by an explosion at a vacant home in Kent County’s Vergennes Township.

Fire crews say two people were inside the neighboring building at the time of the blast. Family friends say the couple had just moved into the home a few years ago and had started renovating and updating. They confirm the two were treated for their injuries at a hospital and released, and are now staying with nearby family.

First responders say they believe the home is a total loss.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire.

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