A house exploded in the City of Kingsford, Michigan USA. The explosion was caused by CH4 that leaked into the basement from the surrounding soil. Evidence suggests that biodegradation of products from the distillation and spillage at or near a former wood carbonization plant site was the major source of CH4 and CO2 in the groundwater system. The plant area is directly upgradient from deep groundwater, samples of which are green-yellow in colour, have a very strong odour of burnt wood, contain high concentrations of mononuclear aromatic and phenolic compounds, and extremely high concentrations of volatile fatty acids. The majority of the dissolved compounds in these groundwater samples have been shown, using laboratory microcosms, to be anaerobically biodegradable to CH4 and CO2. The biodegradable compounds, and the amounts of CH4 and CO2 produced in the microcosms, are consistent with observations from field samples.