WAYNE, Mich. – Workers pulled a man’s body from the wreckage of a furniture store leveled by a suspected natural gas explosion on Wednesday and were still looking for a missing woman, Wayne City Manager John Zech said.

Rescuers found the body of James Zell, 64, of Westland, about 7:15 p.m., and authorities notified his family, Zech said. Zell was a salesman at the store, about 15 miles from Detroit.

“We suspected somebody was in the office area. The dog hit on it,” said Shawn Bell, Wayne’s deputy fire marshal. Bell said as of 7:45 p.m., about 30 percent of the site had been searched.

Zech said the missing woman, a clerical worker for the store, was still missing but rescuers were believed to be close.

The massive blast about 9 a.m. at the William C. Franks Furniture store was felt miles away. The owner, Paul Franks, was pulled from the rubble earlier and was in critical condition at the University of Michigan’s medical center in Ann Arbor.

Police evacuated homes and businesses near the store in Wayne’s business district. Officials expected all residents would be able to return by the end of the day.


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