Explosion, fire claim lives of Orion couple

Orion Township firefighters battle a blaze at a home on Coats Road shortly after 8:30 p.m. June 26. The home exploded and then caught fire, trapping a husband and wife inside. The home collapsed, and firefighters had to dig through the rubble before recovering the bodies of the couple. Photo provided.
Orion Township firefighters battle a blaze at a home on Coats Road shortly after 8:30 p.m. June 26. The home exploded and then caught fire, trapping a husband and wife inside. The home collapsed, and firefighters had to dig through the rubble before recovering the bodies of the couple. Photo provided.

An explosion and fire at a home on Coats Road in Orion Township, just south of the Oxford border, claimed the lives of a husband and wife on Wednesday night in a tragedy that blew the front wall of the home nearly 30 feet from the foundation and sent flames 30-40 feet in the air, fire officials said.

The couple have been identified as Bruce and Kathy Dominguez, ages 65 and 57, respectively.

The couple’s 29-year-old daughter, Kym, escaped the home with minor scratches, township officials said on Thursday.

“Miraculously, Kym was rescued thanks to the efforts of a heroic neighbor,” said Orion Twp. Supervisor Chris Barnett.

The next-door neighbor, identified as David Moen, heard the explosion and ran to assist, helping Kym from the home. Moen reportedly could not re-enter the home to aid Kym’s parents.

“You could barely tell there was a house there. It’s basically completely leveled,” said Barnett, who was on the scene shortly after the incident began.

The cause of the explosion and fire remain under investigation.

“Right now, it’s a real mystery as to what happened,” said Orion Twp. Fire Chief Bob Smith, adding a fire investigation unit would conduct a cause and origin investigation to determine the source of the explosion and fire.

Battling the fire

The situation began about 8:30 p.m. June 28 at the home, 433 Coats Rd., near Baldwin and Indianwood roads, when an explosion rocked the area.

Residents reported hearing the explosion from miles away.

A woman who lives in Oxford Hills subdivision east of Clear Lake Elementary just off Drahner Road told The Lake Orion Review she heard the explosion from her home.

At 8:34 p.m., the Orion Twp. Fire Dept. dispatched fire crews to the home for reports of a “house explosion and fire with occupants trapped inside,” Smith said.

“Arriving fire crews reported heavy fire coming from the whole structure and began deploying attack lines,” Smith said. “It was quickly determined that there were two victims still inside, but that one victim was next door but injured.

“Due to heavy fire conditions with flames shooting 30-40 feet in the air throughout the (house), command officers deemed the structure a ‘defensive attack’ and fought the fire from the outside until they were able to knock the fire down. As soon as the fire was knocked down the crews began an active search of the two remaining victims.

“An extensive search continued until they found one victim who succumbed in the fire. An excavator was brought in to finish digging out the structure until the second victim was found,” Smith said.

An Oakland County Sheriff’s Office report said both Bruce and Kathy Dominguez were transported to a medical examiner’s office and scheduled for autopsies the next morning.

Firefighter Lt. Chris Hagan, who arrived fourth on the scene, worked with Captain Eric Florence to immediately organize the water supply and refilling process.

Hagan, who was assigned to the back side of the house, said the firefighters began dousing the fire immediately. “We started putting the fire out and tried to advance as close as we could but it was some pretty intense heat.”

“Fire crews remained on scene for several hours extinguishing hot spots and assisting the investigators with trying to determine a cause,” Smith said.

Brandon, Independence, and Oxford fire departments were immediately called for tanker support. There are no fire hydrants in the area, Smith said.

“Water was never an issue as they hauled water from a hydrant located about a mile away. They kept up the rotation and water supply for several hours. They also brought in extra firefighters to assist in the firefighting operations. We would like to give them a very big ‘Thank you’ for their assistance not only on scene but covering our township as well.”

“Our crews worked tirelessly to see to it that this fire was brought under control as soon as possible,” Smith said. “These men and women worked into the early morning hours aggressively searching for the victims. These people will take this very hard because they worked so hard to try to save the lives of this young lady’s parents.”

Bruce and Kathy Dominguez are survived by their three daughters Kym, Angelyn and Joice.

The Lake Orion Review

will follow this story as it develops. Please check www.lakeorionreview.com, The Lake Orion Review Facebook page and the Wednesday print edition for continuing developments on this story.

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