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Teen killed by debris from massive industrial building fire, explosion

"There was fire everywhere, fire in the street, fire behind the building ... it was really, really crazy," a bystander said of the blaze in Michigan.
Teen killed by debris from massive industrial building fire, explosion
Posted at 2:57 PM, Mar 05, 2024

Crews were still on scene Tuesday fighting what had been a massive fire and small explosions Monday night at an industrial building in Clinton Township, Michigan.

Fire Chief Tim Duncan said on Tuesday morning that one person died in the explosion, a 19-year-old. The person was reportedly hit by a projectile from the explosion while he was a quarter-mile down the road.

Paul Brower, the emergency management specialist in Clinton Township, said authorities are planning to search the area for a debris field, and said that anyone who finds debris should call police.

The chief described what it was like as officers pulled up to the scene: “The explosions were actually shaking the car.”

Scripps News Detroit is told the building housed a company called Goo, a supplier for vape parts, and there was a lot of butane and propane inside the building, which was causing the explosions.

There were hundreds of small explosions inside the building as canisters were exploding and shooting out of the building. Fire crews say the canisters were flying for miles, and they believe they were nitrous-oxide and butane.

One of those canisters flew through the windshield of a fire truck and hit a firefighter. Investigators believe glass was the primary cause of the injury, but the firefighter was checked out at a nearby hospital and is expected to be OK. Another pedestrian was injured and hit with a piece of a propane tank.

There were four people inside the building at the time, but they got out once they heard cracking.

Fire crews said this was one of the most challenging fires they've seen in years. 

Fire Chief Tim Duncan said several police vehicles and firetrucks were damaged by the propane.

Duncan also said there were some fuel fires on nearby railroad tracks but those have been extinguished.

Tuesday morning, they were still asking people to avoid the area as cleanup efforts and an investigation were underway. 

Loud sounds and huge plumes of smoke could be seen and heard from miles away.

"At first, I thought it was the next door neighbor doing something ... crazy outside. And the wife is like 'no, I just checked Facebook, there's explosions going on.' And I followed the plume of smoke and the shaking car, and here I am. And these are the baby explosions going off. There was much bigger ones going off earlier," said one witness."You could feel the concussions from the explosions in the car."

Another witness described what they experienced Monday evening.

"At the time when it first started off, I was actually inside the house ... when I had a chance to get to the front, we all ran outside. We saw the sky was really orange. So at that point, we kept hearing consistent booming, booming noises," he said. "There was fire everywhere, fire in the street, fire behind the building... it was really, really crazy. I've never seen anything like that before."

A different witness said, "I thought it was thunder ... I actually checked my weather app to see if it was supposed to storm or rain tonight and it wasn't, and that's when I heard about it."

This story was originally published at Scripps News Detroit.

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