UPDATE: Massive Fire Damages Ferndale Business
Overheated drum of animal fat blamed for starting Thursday morning blaze that overtook Van Industries, sending up plumes of smoke seen for miles. No injuries reported.
Update, 5 p.m.: A 55-gallon drum of animal fat that boiled over caused the massive fire at Van Industries in Ferndale on Thursday morning, according to City Manager April McGrath.
The fire has been contained and extinguished as of late Thursday afternoon, but the Ferndale Fire Department remained on the scene to ensure safety and put out any hot spots, McGrath said in a news release.
Employees tried to extinguish the blaze with fire extinguishers, but flames quickly overtook the building at 1285 Wordsworth Rd., and employees called 911, McGrath said.
The value of the building structure is estimated at $250,000 with another $250,000 in equipment and product inside.
Firefighters battled a massive fire at Van Industries in Ferndale for hours Thursday, which sent smoke billowing from the area that could be seen for many miles away. No injuries were reported.
The company at 1285 Wordsworth – about half a mile north of Eight Mile Road near the railroad tracks east of Hilton – manufactures sanding, buffing and polishing products.
Flames burst through the roof of the commercial building before 11 a.m. Thursday.
"The key is to keep it contained to Van Industries," said City Manager April McGrath, who was on the scene.
Although the smoke was mainly rising above the building located in an industrial area in Ferndale, and over the railroad tracks, McGrath recommended residents close their windows if they smell smoke.
"There is no special danger due to any poisonous smoke. The building contains animal fat which caught fire," Ferndale Detective Lt. William Wilson said in a news release.
Also at the scene, Ferndale Mayor David Coulter said Van Industries has been in Ferndale for nearly 50 years.
At midday, firefighters were putting out hot spots in the building, but were not entering the structure because it was in danger of collapsing, Coulter said. At 12:40 p.m., firefighters continued to spray down the building.
Three employees were inside Van Industries, a family owned business, when the fire broke out about 10:30 a.m., WDIV reported.
Smoke could be seen from miles away from the site. Amy Trerice wrote on Rochester Patch's Facebook page, "What's the giant plume of smoke south of town?"
Kirsten Haupt Cooper Stanley wrote on Ferndale Patch: "Can see the smoke from Sinai-Grace!!" (hospital in Detroit).
Ferndale firefighters were being assisted by the Royal Oak, Madison Heights, Oak Park and Hazel Park fire departments.
Watch video of the fire at the WXYZ website.
Ferndale Patch will continue to update the story. If you have reports from the scene and/or photos to share, leave a comment below, upload photos and video or email Beth.Valone@Patch.com