The call came into the station at about 7:57 p.m. The first truck was at the automotive repair shop, located at 18900 Meginnity, four minutes later.
“It was some type of auto body repair shop,” Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray said. The Dearborn Fire Department also covers the city of Melvindale.
The small explosions were caused as tires popped and small gasoline containers and other flammable liquids caught fire, Murray said.
“There were barrels of paint thinner and other liquids that we suspect were the cause of the explosions,” he said. “(The building) was going pretty good when our crews got out there. There were fires in several areas of the building.”
Murray said they did what they could to control the fire, but it was spreading faster than they could contain it with the 29 firefighters at the scene.
“We had to pull out of the building and do a defensive operation on the building,” he said.
A defensive operation is when the firefighters dump water on the blaze without being inside the fire.
“At that point some exterior walls were becoming unstable and there wasn’t much we were going to be able to save,” Murray said. “As a safety measure we had to pull out.”
After containing the fire, crews went back inside through the office portion of the building to make sure the fires were out in the back. He said the front office is mostly intact, but the rear of the building where the work is done was likely a total loss.
Murray said the investigation is still ongoing with no preliminary cause of the fire able to be released.
“The guys on scene did an excellent job controlling the fire,” he said. “I wound up coming in to help out. I thought the crews were going to be there all night because of the size of the fire, but the crews did a crack job at controlling it.”
He said the fire was out by 10:15 p.m.
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