Two people escape overnight house explosion and fire in Niles
NILES, Mi. -- Ron Taylor and Michaelle Devrese said they were sound asleep when the house they stayed in for eighteen years started to burn around them.
“I could hear the flames, you know, the roar of the flames, and I could hear crackling and things breaking, and I thought—I seriously thought I was having a dream!” Taylor said. “Honestly, my next thought was ‘we’re about to burn to death.’”
Around 2:16am, neighbors called the Niles Fire Department after hearing an explosion and screaming at a house near Ninth Street and Broadway; crews rushed to the scene.
Inside-- Taylor and Devrese were trapped.
“The roof had caved in on top of us," said Devrese. "I was pinned.”
Taylor was able to push some of the debris off himself and Devrese, but the fire continued to spread and their room started to fill with smoke. Both of them covered their faces to keep from breathing it in.
Taylor said “I just saw no way out. And I just closed my eyes and I said ‘no, I’m going to get us out of here.’”
It was then that he saw a way out-- either through a window or part of the collapsed roof.
“I made my way past her, and I slide out, I think onto the roof," he said. "I was saying ‘okay, I’m out, can you move?’ And she said ‘no, help, I can’t move.’ So I just grabbed her, kind of under her arms, and just pulled as hard as I could, and we got out.”
Only to see that their home was demolished.
“We walked out off of the roof but stepped right onto the ground. It was just flattened," said Taylor.
The pair were outside when the fire department arrived to fight the blaze.
“Apparently it was some type of-- we believe-- gas explosion, but they’re still trying to determine what the cause of it is," said Public Safety Director Jim Millin. "The investigators are here, as you can see the gas company is here. Our investigators are talking with the homeowners.”
Taylor and Devrese got out relatively unscathed, though they're unsure if any of their pets got out safely. Now, they're uncertain of what's going to happen next.
“We’re going to take it one day at a time, and we just basically start all over," Devrese said. "It’s all we can do.”
The NFD is still working to determine the cause of the fire.
It's unclear where Taylor and Devrese will stay now that their home has been destroyed, though they say they have relatives nearby.