A Detroit firefighter was injured Tuesday as he tried to escape a collapsing wall during a fire that raged for hours at a sprawling former auto plant on the city’s east side.
Fire officials said parts of the building on Farnsworth near East Warren Avenue and I-75 have been burning for days, and it was unclear whether the blaze was new or rekindling.
A firefighter injured his leg, neck and back when he jumped off an aerial ladder turntable on the top of a fire truck as a nearby two-story wall started to collapse, Senior Fire Chief Jack Wiley said. The firefighter was taken to a hospital. His injuries were not believed to be serious, Wiley said. The wall missed the truck.
Firefighters were called to the scene about 3:30 p.m. Thick, dark smoke could been rising from as far away as Royal Oak.
Wiley said the building stretches for about a block, with a two-story middle section flanked on either side by taller sections, including one that appeared to be six stories tall.
Firefighters attacked the flames from the outside because it was too dangerous to go in the run-down building, officials said.
“We’re keeping everybody back. … It will burn itself out eventually. It’s not worth life or limb. It’s a vacant building,” Detroit Fire Lt. Tracy Tonti said, as large flakes of black ash fell around him.
The building is the former home of Fisher Body Plant No. 10, said Charles Hyde, retired history professor at Wayne State University. It was not clear late Tuesday whether it also housed occupied businesses.
Charles Simms, Detroit Fire chief of arson, said the building was believed to contain some chemicals and burned a week ago for three days. Other firefighters said parts of it had recently been burning for five days. Crews were still on the scene late Tuesday.