Fire at metro Detroit Buff Whelan Chevrolet could be largest in Sterling Heights history

Posted at 11:32 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 17:51:35-04

Firefighters brought in heavy equipment to tear down the walls of the service area at Buff Whelan Chevrolet in Sterling Heights, after a massive fire Tuesday night.

They say a four-alarm fire led to 12 fire departments responding to put out the flames.

We're told at least 20 cars were on fire inside the building and most of the damage is contained to the service area and body shop.

The Sterling Heights chief described the fire as the largest he's heard of in the city's history.

Chief Chris Martin tells us he believes a cleaning crew was buffing the floors after hours, when a fire broke out around 7:00 pm.

Outside, intense flames melted the side of Corvettes worth more than $100,000.

Firefighters went on the defensive after the walls and roof of the service area collapsed.

They continued working on the building throughout the night.

Witnesses say they could see smoke from miles away, and could hear lots of "popping" noises during the fire.

Firefighters are still looking for an exact cause. Workers we talked to say they will rebuild.

Buff Whelan Chevrolet issued the following statement Wednesday morning: “We can’t thank enough all of the firefighters and first responders who tirelessly worked throughout the night,” says Kerry Whelan, Owner of Buff Whelan Chevrolet. “We don’t know what started the fire, and won’t have any information until the investigation is complete. However, the fire was contained in the Service Department and thankfully no one was hurt. Our new and used car departments are still open and will carry on with ‘business as usual’. We have all the vehicle inventory anyone needs. We would also like to thank our remarkable employees for their commitment and dedication, as well as the community for the outpouring of concern and support.”