DETROIT (WWJ) – Firefighters from Howell and several surrounding communities worked Wednesday night into Thursday morning to battle the flames and smoke from a large fire at an auto parts plant on Grand River Avenue near Burkhardt Road.
The blaze left heavy damage to the Magna Atrium facility, which serves the big three and foreign carmakers.
A little more than half of the 187,000 square feet building remains standing after the devastating fire. Howell Fire Chief Andy Pless said the fire appeared to have started in the spraying application booth where they make interiors and seating for the big three.
“The roof is partially collapsed, it’s caused us issues getting to several items smoldering in there,” said Pless, who told WWJ an excavator was called in to work on the building.
WWJ listeners near the scene said the smoke could be seen for miles away and that workers had been evacuated, Wednesday. Huge flames could also be seen shooting from the roof.
Nearby residents were asked to keep doors and windows closed, and to stay in their homes until the situation was over. Police did not order any evacuations.
There’s still much to be determined about the fate of the 450 workers who were burned out of their workplace. But, Security Director Ned Timmons said he doesn’t think Magna will leave them out in the cold.
“The human resources director is on the way out here for a meeting right now, and I’m sure they’ll take care of their people. Magna has a longtime reputation of taking care of their people and the community, and I’m sure they’ll do something to try to help everybody,” he said.
The plant supplies the big three and foreign car markers with seating dashboard and other interior components. Timmons said he expects Magna to pick up the slack elsewhere.
“They’re a major Tier Two supplier and have been and will be… They’re probably going to have to look to other facilities to take up the slack here, and Magna is very capable of that,” Timmons said.
No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.