STERLING HEIGHTS, MI – The Sterling Heights Fire Department was called at 7:44 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8 for a fire in a commercial building at 6640 Sterling Drive South.
The facility is operated by AGS Automotive Systems. The crews from Fire Station 3 had a 2 minute 18 second response time.
Upon arrival, Fire Chief Chris Martin reports units were faced with a large body of fire in the northwest corner of the building. An aggressive interior attack was first mounted—but crews were driven back by fire that was complicated by explosions, arching electrical components and ruptured gas lines that were feeding the fire. The Battalion Chief on the scene then withdrew the interior crews and mounted a defensive exterior attack.
A second alarm was called at 8:15 p.m., which brought help from Clinton Township, Shelby Township and Warren to the scene. Fraser, Macomb and Utica assisted by filling the empty stations. The crews were able to contain the fire to the portion of the building where it started, but Martin reported it took several hours to bring under control due to problems with the electrical and natural gas service. Chief Martin said the fire started when a forklift came in contact with a high voltage electrical source, causing a significant arc that came in contact with high storage racks of combustible material. The fire started quickly and spread, overtaking the suppression system.
There were no injuries reported from either the workers in the facility or the responding firefighters. More than 40 firefighters responded to the scene to extinguish the blaze.
It is too early to set an estimated loss amount, Martin said, but with the damage to the building and its contents —and the related reduction in production— he estimates the loss will be in the millions of dollars. “I’m proud of Sterling Heights Fire Department for their quick and thorough work to get this difficult blaze under control,” said Mayor Michael C. Taylor. “We are of course always grateful to our neighboring cities for their support and assistance in fires such as this. The City will do what it can to assist AGS Automotive Systems to support getting production back up and running as soon as possible.”