FLINT (Mich.) -- Authorities said Tuesday that a 55-year old woman and a 4-year old girl were killed in an explosion-and-fire that damaged many homes and left debris in their wake.
Three homes on Flint's west side were completely engulfed by flames by firefighters who arrived at the scene shortly after 9:30 Monday. Officials estimated that around 20 homes sustained damage from the blast, which was felt miles away.
At a Tuesday news conference, authorities said that the body of the girl was found in the rubble of her house. Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton stated that a Michigan State Police Cadaver Dog and firefighters with specialized equipment found the girl's body.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley stated Tuesday morning, "This is a terrible time for our community."
Neeley stated that the cause of the explosion which left the neighborhood splintered with wood and other debris was still under investigation. Neeley also stated that all 17 houses on the block where the explosion took place were evacuated.
Initial reports stated that the girl who disappeared was three years old. However, authorities later corrected the information at a news conference. WJRT-TV reported that they had provided correct information. The 55-year old woman who lived in a nearby house died at a hospital.
Barton stated that a man believed to be the father of the girl is in critical condition. Authorities believe that the girl's mother was present at the house. She suffered burns, but the injuries are not life-threatening.
Neeley stated Tuesday afternoon that all residents were accounted for.
Aisha Lott, a neighbor, claimed that she felt an explosion and that the blast rocked their house.
She said, "It was like an extremely loud boom, and it shook my house."
Brian Wheeler, spokesperson for Consumers Energy, said that the utility received a 911 call Monday night about the explosion at a house. Crews responded to the scene and cut off natural gas and electricity to seven houses. He also said that three of those homes were damaged by the blast.
Wheeler stated that there was no evidence of gas leaks from Consumers Energy's gas line that leads to the house that exploded. Wheeler stated that the utility was working with local authorities in an investigation into the explosion.
The utility released a statement saying that "Our thoughts this morning go out to the residents in this neighborhood and their loved one."