HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ) – Dense smoke billowing from a huge fire at the building that used to house Sanders Confectionery headquarters in Highland Park could be see from miles away Saturday morning.

WWJ’s Beth Fisher reports firefighters are trying to battle the raging fire on Oakman Boulevard, near the Lodge and Davison freeways.

Fire officials say the fire broke out around 5:30 a.m. at a commercial building that makes wooden pallets. A recycling facility is also located at the sprawling complex.

Fire Chief Derek Hillman said putting out the fire at the 100,000 square-foot warehouse is proving to be quite challenging.

“It’s a large building so we’re doing the best we can,” said Hillman. “There’s foam and pallets inside there so, it’s just combustible materials. There’s no danger to the citizens.”

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Authorities say the building previously was the headquarters for famed local confectionery company Sanders. They moved to the nine acre Highland Park site from their original location in downtown Detroit in 1941. The plant remained in production until 1995 when the facility was sold to a warehousing company.

Mutual aid was called in from Hamtramck and Detroit to help Highland Park firefighters battle the blaze. No word yet on what caused the fire. No injuries were reported.

Meantime, for native Detroiters, the thought of Sanders ice cream and candies, brings back sweet memories.

Perry Knight, who worked at Sanders for 20 years, rode his bike to the scene after hearing about the fire.

“It feels bad. It’s like a part of me just died. I loved working there, it was a fun place to work at,” said Knight.

Diane Lynch was the last employee hired at Sanders about 28-years ago, one year before the company went into final bankruptcy. Knowing the old building has gone up in flames stirs up some emotions in Lynch.

“It makes me sad because when the company went into bankruptcy and the building was sold and all the equipment was auctioned off and everything, I mean, there isn’t a part of that building I didn’t walk,” said Lynch.

The famous Sanders brand was revived after being purchased by the Morley Candy Company, another Michigan-based confectionery firm, in 2002.

Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com as we continue to follow this developing story.


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