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Black Smoke Billows From Fire Over I-96

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(Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

(Credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ Newsradio 950)

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LIVONIA (WWJ) - It took firefighters over two hours to extinguish a massive fire in Livonia that sent black smoke billowing into the air which could be seen from miles away.

The fire started Wednesday morning at ERG Environmental Services on Merriman Road, between Schoolcraft and Plymouth roads.

Hovering above the scene in the WWJ Chopper 950, Bill Szumanski said flames were ripping through the top of the building, sending massive clouds of black smoke into the air.

Tipsters driving along I-96 called the WWJ Newsroom to report seeing the smoke from miles away. Mark Jablonski was on his way to work when he stopped after seeing the flames.

“I pulled up and that thing was blazing like crazy then,” Jablonski told WWJ’s Mike Campbell. “The flames were shooting way higher than the firefighters in those buckets up there.”

Firefighters from multiple departments responded to the blaze, attacking the flames from all different angles. After two hours, Fire Chief Shaad Whitehouse said a majority of the fire had been extinguished.

“It was a very hot fire, so the plume rose fairly quickly and dissipated fast because of the wind, which really helped us,” he said.

Whitehouse said drums of chemicals inside the warehouse made their job even more dangerous. He said the chemicals caused the fire to burn much hotter than normal, hot enough to melt the building’s steel supports, not to mention the environmental concern posed by the fumes.

“We’ll be in the neighborhoods to the east and north of here, making sure the air quality is good. But we’re really confident, especially because of the wind conditions, that everything will be ok,” he said. “Our major concern right now is the runoff, probably ground contamination and surface water contamination, which we’re working to control right now.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire, which remains under investigation. HAZMAT crews are on the scene. No injuries were reported.

Police say Merriman Road will remain closed between Schoolcraft and Plymouth roads until further notice.

According to its website, ERG Environmental is a full-service recycling company specializing in fluorescent light bulb recycling, battery recycling, computer recycling, PCB storage and disposal, product recovery and disposal, hazardous waste management and transportation, and other specialized recycling needs.

Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for the latest.

MDOT Traffic Camera on I-96 at Merriman Road.

MDOT Traffic Camera on I-96 at Merriman Road.

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