|A Volkswagon owned by Lincoln Russell sits crushed under a tree in the Woodbridge neighborhood of Detroit, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, as strong winds moved through. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)|
DETROIT (AP) — Crews worked Thursday to restore power after strong winds knocked out electrical service to more than a million customers in Michigan and whipped through several Great Lakes states.
Wednesday's wind gusts also fanned a blaze that killed five people in a Detroit apartment building and pushed a plane carrying members of the University of Michigan basketball team off a runway during takeoff. Forecasters said gusts
DTE Energy said 700,000 of its customers lost power in southeastern Michigan, and more than 670,000 were without service early Thursday. Spokeswoman Stephanie Beres said it's the largest weather-related outage for the utility in 25 years.
Consumers Energy says 187,000 of its customers were without power Thursday morning in other parts of the state after more than 300,000 were affected.
"We have been working through the night and making steady progress," Guy Packard, Consumers Energy's vice president of energy operations, said in a statement. "The lighter winds make for improved working conditions for our crews."
Both utilities said it wasn't immediately clear when power would be restored to all customers, but restoration efforts are expected to continue through the weekend. Additional workers were being brought in from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, New York and Pennsylvania.
Strong winds blew portions of school roofs away in the Grand Rapids and Saginaw areas, and knocked down trees and power lines. A fire was sparked by downed power lines in St. Clair County's Kimball Township, prompting nearby homes to be evacuated.
As the outages piled up Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder activated the state's Emergency Operations Center to closely monitor and share information. He said state departments and agencies were coordinating with utility companies.
"We also will be coordinating with local communities to see if they have additional needs to help their residents as the temperatures go down," Snyder said.