WARREN, Mich. — The May 4 explosion that leveled Best Textile Services was caused intentionally, and authorities are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible, says William Temple, assistant special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The blast that occurred around 8:15 p.m., a few hours after the commercial laundry’s employees had left for the day, rattled homes and businesses up to several miles away.
Warren Fire Commissioner Wilbur “Skip” McAdams says preliminary estimates show that the explosion damaged 49 structures—21 residences and 28 commercial properties. Ten have been condemned.
Total damage in this Detroit suburb is being estimated at millions of dollars.
Specialized investigators from the ATF’s National Response Team spent several days at the site with Warren police and fire officials.
According to local media outlets, investigators are working on the theory that someone uncapped a gas line inside the business and left a candle burning in its path.
“We’re not going to comment about the specifics of the investigation,” Temple said during a media briefing at the site on Thursday, “but it was an explosion that was intentionally set, and we’re following up on whatever information we’ve found from the scene inside.”
U.S. Bankruptcy Court records show that the business owners filed in October for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. On May 6, two days after the explosion, a judge approved a motion by primary creditor Bank of America to convert the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a type that usually leads to liquidation.
Warren police executed a search warrant at the business owner’s home last week. No arrests have been made.
Warren Mayor Jim Fouts says he will fight to see that the residents and business owners affected by this disaster are repaid for damages.
Related Story: Explosion Levels Detroit-Area Commercial Laundry.