Two-alarm fire breaks out at disaster-relief business

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 18, 2014


A large building on Calahan Road containing eight businesses caught fire the evening of Feb. 14.

The firefighting effort required seven fire departments and two additional agencies to get the fire under control and extinguished.

According to Roseville Fire Chief Mike Holland, the owner of Hansen Disaster Relief at 29167 Calahan noticed the fire at 8:33 p.m. and called it in to the Fire Department. Holland said that since all the trucks were on runs at the time, the department took seven minutes to respond instead of the usual three.

Once firefighters arrived, they found the fire had originated in a trailer — one that could be hitched to a pickup truck — inside the building. Firefighting crews started attacking the blaze, but they quickly retreated when it became clear that the trailer was a bigger hazard than they first thought.

“It had 100 gallons of fuel oil, 400-gallon propane tanks, and a large stock of ammunition,” Holland said. “The crew decided to leave when the first (propane) bottle exploded. They were not aware of that when they went in initially, and from that point on, we fought the (fire) from the outside.”

Holland said that all the materials were items the business would normally have on hand for its work.

He said the weather was a problem, as responders had trouble pulling the water they needed from the hydrant system and ended up getting more into the system from water towers. Eventually, crews from Center Line, Warren, Eastpointe, Fraser, St. Clair Shores and Clinton Township joined the fight.

Holland said the building did not have a sprinkler system or a fire alert system, but firefighters were able to fight the fire through the garage door and a hole that was burned in the roof. Ultimately, the fire was put out around 4:30 a.m., and Holland said about 70 percent of the building was saved.

“Basically, the building portions where the trailer was, that portion was burnt, and we lost the roof on that area, but in the rest of the building, the fire was stopped from progressing,” he said. “Quite a few of those businesses (are) still intact and still operational.”

Holland said the cause of the fire remained under investigation as of Feb. 18.