Smoke From Auto Shop Fire Closes Detroit Highway

June 28--A fire raging at an auto shop at a large commercial building on Detroit's west side shut down I-96 in both directions at Davison tonight. A Michigan State Police dispatcher said the freeway remained closed at 10:43 p.m.

Detroit Fire Department Chief Operations Officer John King said the fire was started when workers in the building attempted to repair an air conditioning system, using tools including blowtorches.

King said the business did not pull a permit to conduct the work. He said the business served as an auto repair shop, sold cars and even had a section that sold clothing and toys. The name of the business was not immediately available from fire officials.

State Police shut down the freeway and routed cars onto area streets.

Arson Chief Charles Simms said there were potentially hazardous materials in the building but didn't say what they may be. He said the fire started around 7:35 p.m. The black smoke billowing from the building at the Jeffries and Greenfield could be seen for miles as crews doused the structure with water. King said 14 fire trucks and dozens of firefighters were working the fire. The structure continued to burn late Friday night.

"We're focused on trying to get some water to knock down all of the black smoke," King said, adding that the roofing was burning badly. "We want to drown it out."

Onlookers pulled over and got out of their cars to watch the fire.

Crystal Sappling of Royal Oak said she came the scene after spotting the smoke all the way from her home.

"It's crazy," she said, while snapping a photo of the fire. "I've never seen anything like this. I hope they're able to stop it."

Copyright 2014 - Detroit Free Press

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