AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The thick black smoke coming from the plastics company in Auburn Hills could be seen for miles Tuesday morning.
"Seeing that smoke, I was like wow! That is incredible," said retired Troy Fire Lieutenant Tonya Perry who saw the smoke in Troy and came to see her former colleagues joining firefighters from Auburn Hills in battling the blaze that started outside US Farathane located near University Drive and I-75.
The fire started at 10:22 a.m. and according to the National Weather Service, the smoke leveled off at about 3,500 feet in the air.
Additional firefighters and resources arrived from Waterford Regional, Rochester Hills, City of Rochester, and Oakland Township.
Auburn Hills Fire Chief Ellen Taylor said plastic and metal auto part containers that had been stored outside on the south side of the building caught fire. A drone from the City of Rochester was used to help locate and extinguish hot spots that remained after most of the fire was out.
Chief Taylor said an estimated 20,000 storage bins had burned.
US Farathane was evacuated along with several office buildings to the south where the smoke was blowing. There were no reported injuries. Minor heat damage to one exterior side of US Farathane was reported.
"This, in a building, would have been a disaster," Perry said.
EPA Region 5 personnel could be seen at the location, but a spokesperson later said they are not involved.
US Farathane President & CEO Andrew Greenlee released the following statement to 7 Action News:
There was a major fire at our Auburn Hills facility this morning. There were no injuries or toxic chemical issues. The event occurred outside of our production facility in a storage area where primarily empty plastic and steel returnable containers are stored. We will conduct a full investigation along with local authorities to determine the cause. We want to thank all the Fire and Police Departments from multiple municipalities for their prompt response. We witnessed first-hand their bravery and effectiveness. There are outstanding employees at our Auburn Hills facility. We are grateful for no injuries. We anticipate starting production back up during second shift today. We appreciate the outpouring of support and concern from our customers, suppliers, and competitors. We are currently evaluating customer shipment schedules and expect minimal disruptions.