By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The cause of a fire that destroyed the Oakwood Food Center the night of July 4 is under investigation, Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray said.
“There was a gas leak during the fire,” Murray said. “It is too early to determine if it contributed to the cause or if it happened during the fire. As for fireworks, it is too early to tell on that either.”
Murray said the Fire Marshal Bureau is investigating the fire, and he anticipates the investigation will take several days to a few weeks depending upon the initial findings.
Residents from nearby Prospect Court were evacuated from their homes as a precaution because of heavy smoke from the blaze.
Murray said no mutual aid was required at the fire, but Dearborn Heights covered a call for the Dearborn Fire Department while it was fighting the Oakwood Food Center blaze.
Seniors and disabled residents of nearby Coogan Towers relied heavily on the Oakwood Food Center because of its proximity. Its loss will pose as challenge for low income residents without transportation. There are no bus routes in Melvindale.
The city of Melvindale operates Senior Demand, which is curb-to-curb, responsive transportation for people 55 and older, and for people with disabilities, within the city of Melvindale and five miles beyond the city limits.
Service hours are weekdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and users must call one day in advance. Membership is $15 per year, or $1 per trip. The bus is wheelchair accessible.
The city received a new 2017 model year senior transportation bus in early 2018 through the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation’s Community Partnership Program, which helps local communities leverage federal funding to meet local transit needs.
The fire comes two years after the DTE gas explosion that occurred July 2, 2016, when a drunken driver struck a gas main, triggering an explosion and intense fire.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)