Industrial fire and multiple explosions shoot debris into the air in Detroit suburb

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MI — A fire raging at an industrial facility caused multiple explosions that rocked Detroit’s suburbs Monday evening and sent debris far into the air, prompting police to plead with residents to stay indoors.

Debris fell as far as 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away, Clinton Township police said on Facebook. Authorities said they did not know exactly what was burning or its possible health effects.

“We cannot overemphasize the danger that is currently unfolding,” a police post said. “Please, please, please stay inside and away.”

Police said the fire was near 15 Mile Road and Groesbeck Highway. News helicopter videos showed a huge, bright orange area of ​​fire with bursts of flame in the blaze that resembled explosions.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel told WDIV-TV late Monday that the explosions started at the Select Distributors plant around 9 p.m. and Clinton Township officers and firefighters responded immediately.

“They understand that there was some type of CO2 or propane explosions taking place at the facility, and again, it was just continuous explosions, in addition to the fire,” Hackel said.

After 11 p.m., he told the news channel that the fire was under control.

“Their concern right now is, they’re obviously trying to contain the fire, but what’s going on with that air quality now?” Hackel said. “We have a HAZMAT unit trying to test the air quality so we can get further updates.”

Kevin Felster told The Detroit News he was on his way to Clinton Township when he saw the fire and heard the explosions. He said he got out of his car and saw pieces of metal – from the size of a spray can to the size of a car wheel – on the ground.

“It was heavy stuff and it was completely charred black,” Felster said. “I guarantee you… if that were to fly through the air at any speed, it would crush your head like nothing.”

It was not immediately known if anyone was injured.

Select Distributors is a wholesale supplier of novelty items, phone accessories and other merchandise to discount stores, dollar stores, wholesalers and other retailers, according to its website.

The company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Joleen Vultaggio said she heard the explosions from 8 miles (12.8 kilometers) away at her home in Sterling Heights.

“It just scared me because it wasn’t one boom, it was continuous and it was very intense,” she said.