Created: 11/14/2013 5:35 PM
(AP) DETROIT - A Detroit company that makes adhesives, paint, primers and sealants was heavily damaged Thursday by a blaze that forced authorities to evacuate surrounding homes and a nearby elementary school.
The fire started early Thursday afternoon at Chemical Technology Inc.’s offices and warehouse on the city’s east side and sent up huge plumes of thick smoke that were seen miles away.
Fire officials quickly labeled it a hazardous materials situation. Homes and other businesses close to the company were evacuated, while some streets in the area were shut down to traffic.
Students at White Elementary were taken to another school a few blocks away due to air quality issues, and parents picked them up there.
Gerhard Weber, the owner of Chemical Technology, told The Detroit News that a spark was caused by employees moving chemicals. The spark created the flames, which quickly spread through the building.
Firefighters said they were initially unsure what materials were burning. The exact cause of the blaze was under investigation, according to fire officials.
None of the eight or nine workers inside were hurt, Weber said.
The fire was under control by 6 p.m., and residents were allowed to return home. Fire officials were conducting environmental tests.
The neighborhood around the burned building is a mix of homes, small shops and other warehouses.
"I saw a lot of fire and smelled a lot of fumes," 32-year-old Sharlisa Matthews told the Detroit Free Press. "Now I feel dizzy. I’m worried."
Resident Dwayne Miller, 36, started walking closer to the blaze Thursday afternoon until he thought better of it and turned around.
"I got scared. I don’t want nothing to blow up," he told The Detroit News.