CASS COUNTY, Mich. -- One person is dead following a sudden explosion at a petroleum pumping station in Cass County, Michigan.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says two men were working at the station when it exploded.
Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin Lawrence of Osceola is expected to be okay, but 71-year-old Charles Lawrence of Lakefort died in the blast.
Officials say it happened at an oil pumping station owned by Trak Oil just before 4pm on Bulhand Street, a rural area of Cassopolis.
Neighbors close to the scene tell ABC57 they’ve never felt anything like the sheer power of that explosion.
One was the person who made the call to 911 for help.
“It was loud, it was explosive. It shook our whole entire house,” recalls Vanessa Frias, who lives across the street from where the explosion happened.
Frias was in the basement of her home when she felt her house shake like never before.
Thinking something exploded in her kitchen, she ran upstairs to find massive flames and thick smoke coming from right across the street.
“I ran outside, and a guy came over and was saying ‘I need help’, so we called 911 and we looked over and there was a building that was on fire,” Frias explains. “He was covered in oil, so it was just pretty devastating.”
That man, Kevin Lawrence, was a survivor of the explosion. Frias watched as Lawrence ran back across the street to try to save Charles Lawrence, but authorities say he was already killed by the sudden blast.
“We just watched from afar because it was dangerous, there was oil and fire, so we stayed away,” says Frias. “Thank goodness our house and farm are far enough away that we weren’t affected.”
Officials have not said what may have caused the explosion, but what is for sure, is the tragedy that this typically quiet area is feeling.
“Somebody lost their father, somebody lost their uncle, somebody lost their husband today. I just hope that they can get through this, and I hope everything works out,” Frias hopes. “It’s just an unfortunate situation.”
For an idea of how strong that blast was, even people miles away chimed in on social media to say they could feel the intensity of the sudden boom.
The cause of the blast remains under investigation.