Michigan industrial fire site wasn't allowed to store gas canisters: officials

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Investigators probing the causes of a massive fire at an industrial building in a Detroit suburb Monday night that sent gas canisters into the air — one of which fatally struck a 19-year-old man — say the facility was storing gas cylinders that it should not have had. had.

The deadly incident saw a massive blaze tear through a facility at 19100 15 Mile Road, and witnesses heard hundreds of explosions as butane and nitrous oxide canisters flew into the air and rained down up to three kilometers away.

The incident shook the area of ​​Clinton Township, a charter township in Macomb County, where some residents say they thought they were at war. Fire investigators and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are still investigating the cause of the fire.

The facility is home to Select Distributors, which supplies vaping products and cell phone chargers for liquor stores and gas stations, as well as a company called Goo, which sells whipped cream chargers in heavy canisters .

MASSIVE MICHIGAN INDUSTRIAL FIRE TRIGS HUNDREDS OF EXPLOSIONS, SENDING DEBRIS FLYING AND KILLING 1

Firefighters battle industrial fire

An industrial building in Michigan caught fire Monday, sending gas canisters into the air and killing a man. (WJBK)

Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said the building stored cans of butane and nitrous oxide that were not allowed to be kept there.

Cannon said the victim, who was not immediately identified, was at a nearby car wash watching the scene unfold when a piece of debris struck him in the head. Four employees were inside the building when the fire broke out and managed to flee the scene, authorities said.

“They weren’t allowed to have those cartridges,” Cannon said at a news conference Tuesday.

“If we had known the containers were behind the scenes, we would have immediately reported violations and worked to get them out of there through the court system,” said Cannon, who added that operators would be held accountable.

Firefighters battle blaze in Michigan

Firefighters battle an industrial fire in the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township Monday evening. (WXYZ via AP)

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“There are going to be repercussions,” he said. “People have done things wrong, very wrong. And we don't like that and we're not going to accept it.”

Officials say business operators and employees have been cooperative.

Cannon warned local residents not to approach the bombs scattered around the neighborhood, as they are still at risk of exploding.

WXYZ, citing import records, said Select Distributors imported gas cylinders from China in November.

“They recently received a half load of butane containers,” Clinton Township Fire Chief Tim Duncan said. “They still had more than half left. They also had the nitrous fluid palates and then some lighter fluid with that.”

Duncan said more than 100,000 vape pens containing lithium batteries were also inside the building, many of which exploded.

Firefighters battle industrial fire

One of the gas canisters fatally struck a 19-year-old man at a nearby car wash. (WJBK)

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“There's a lot of aspects that come into play. Storage, what they're allowed to do, certain quantities they're allowed to hold,” Duncan said.

The fire broke out around 8:40 p.m. and firefighters were unable to immediately fight the fire due to explosions and dangerous projectiles.

Fires were still burning at the site Tuesday and Fox 2 reported that investigators would not be able to access the explosion site until it was no longer ignited and cleared by firefighters .

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