Fire rages at a chemical plant in suburban Detroit; hundreds of homes evacuated
Wednesday August 10, 2005
By JoANNE VIVIANO
Associated Press Writer
ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) A fire raged at a chemical plant early Wednesday, forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of homes in two suburban Detroit communities.
Authorities said no injuries were reported, and no one was inside the plant when the fire started.
Witnesses described a series of loud explosions at the Michigan Chemical Recovery plant that shook the ground and shot flames and smoke into the air. The plant is a division of the Environmental Quality Company, which specializes in treating, recycling and disposing of hazardous materials, according to its Web site.
At least 1,000 homes were evacuated in the neighboring community of Wayne because of fumes from the fire, said city manager John Zech. It was not immediately clear how many homes were evacuated in Romulus, about 25 miles southwest of Detroit.
Romulus Mayor Alan Lambert said one tank exploded at the plant, which then set off explosions in other tanks. He said air quality was one of the primary concerns and that the intensity of the fire and uncertainty about the chemicals kept firefighting crews from getting too close.
``What the plant does is takes hazardous materials and neutralize it so they're not hazardous anymore,'' Lambert said.
Romulus Police Chief Charles Kirby urged residents within a half-mile radius to evacuate because materials in the smoke could pose a danger to their health.
Shelters were set up at high schools and community centers, and the Red Cross and Salvation Army were expected to provide assistance.
Let it burn!
The story should read 1,000 mobile homes were evacuated.