Crews continue tackling hot spots, explosions days after Clinton Twp. warehouse fire

First responders share some of the challenges they faced the fateful night
Posted at 8:03 PM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-07 06:15:28-05

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Multiple explosions rocked metro Detroit as a massive warehouse fire broke out in Clinton Township on Monday.

Nearly 48 hours later, the township's fire department is still tackling hot spots and explosions, luckily without any more projectiles.

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"Throughout the night, there were some flames visible. There were estimated to be approximately 13 different explosions. Luckily, most of those are occurring underneath the pile and not projecting out right now," Clinton Township Fire Chief Tim Duncan said.

It's one of the most dangerous situations first responders in Clinton Township have ever encountered.

The explosions and massive fire at Goo Smoke Shop and Select Distributors broke out Monday at 8:50 p.m.

Now as investigators comb through the aftermath, we are learning more about what hundreds of brave men and women from various agencies encountered that night.

"The brave men and women were doing the jobs that needed to be done amidst the terror falling from the sky," Capt. Anthony Coppola with Clinton Township Police Department said.

Coppola rushed to the scene to find dangerous debris including novelty knives and shrapnel that were shooting out of the building due to the exploding canisters containing nitrous and butane.

"One area by the command post down to the scene where they were rendering aid, I could hear and feel these canisters striking the grass and getting lodged in the grass, hitting the sidewalk and skipping along the surrounding area," Coppola said.

The debris has been found as far as a 2-mile radius.

"The unique challenge was to get people back into a safe distance, preferably back into their cars or homes," Coppola said.

But Coppola says there were reports of folks getting aggressive and even verbally abusing police officers as they kept them out of harm's way.

"With the public, people realize from this incident that we were not trying so much to take people's rights away but more so we were trying to protect life and property," Coppola said.

Sadly, a 19-year-old was killed after a canister struck him a quarter mile away from the explosion. A firefighter was also injured and is recovering well.

"To be honest, I didn't realize it was that hostile environment until I got home," Coppola said.

The husband and father of three was grateful to see his family.

"What's the one thing about that night you will never forget?" 7 Action News said.

"For me personally, trying to communicate with the personnel and interact with these excellent men and women, with the medical and fire staff, all while hellfire was raining down upon us," Coppola said.

Melanie Dack lives just 200 yards away from the building. The mother of one was at the traffic light when she saw the explosion.

"As I was sitting there, the car was shaking from the explosions. I didn't know what to do. So I just took off," Dack said.

She immediately called her 26-year-old son, Ben, who was still inside the home.

"I went to my backyard door and looked out there and I could see huge flames. I could feel the heat on my face. So I got in my car and drove 5 miles away," Ben said.

Both of them returned at midnight.

"Because everything was dark. There was no electricity, so it was black. All we could see was the flashing lights from the police. It felt like a war zone," said Melanie.

"It smelled really strong outside, and we didn't want to light candles in the house cause what if there were toxic fumes? We didn't know much at the time. So we were like, let's just go to bed and hope for the best," Dack said.

If anyone happens to come across any debris from the fire, they are urged not to touch it and to call police immediately.