Fire in 555 Building shuts down Woodward

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 22, 2016

 Firefighters tackle a blaze at the top of the 555 Building.

Firefighters tackle a blaze at the top of the 555 Building.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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A fire erupted at the top of the 555 Building on Woodward Avenue Dec. 22.

According to Birmingham Assistant Fire Chief John Donohue, the blaze was reported at 10:15 a.m. Since the fire was at the top of the high-rise, the flames and smoke could reportedly be seen blocks away.

“The fire was on the 14th floor, extending to the 15th,” Donahue told reporters at the scene. “At this time the fire is under investigation. It is unknown if the fire started at the exterior or the interior.”

The fire was located in a residential part of the multiuse building, and those living on floors 12-15 were evacuated. People on the lower floors were asked to move to the north end of the building, away from the fire on the southeast corner of the structure. No injuries were reported.

Police Cmdr. Scott Grewe, who was on Woodward assisting with traffic control, said the building had been undergoing renovations to the facade for some time. It’s not known if the cause of the fire was from those work crews, or if the fire came from a residence or other part of the building’s interior.

Fire crews from seven neighboring communities showed up to assist, including West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Township, Royal Oak, Southfield, Madison Heights and Waterford.

Just after noon the flames were reportedly extinguished, and an hour later traffic was reopened fully on northbound Woodward, while two of four lanes remain closed on southbound Woodward. Power was still working in a majority of the building, and the attached Triple Nickel restaurant was still open to patrons even as access to the area was limited to vehicles and pedestrians.

Birmingham Fire Marshal Lyal Bigger and Birmingham Fire Chief John Connaughton were both on scene as the flames were extinguished, investigating the cause of the blaze. That investigation is ongoing, according to Donohue.

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