Flying Debris Killed Man a Quarter-Mile From Vape Warehouse Fire

Gas canisters, knives flew up to 2 miles away
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2024 8:17 AM CST
Flying Debris Killed Man a Quarter-Mile From Vape Warehouse Fire
In this frame grab taken from video provided by WXYZ, firefighters battle an industrial fire in the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township, late Monday, March 4, 2024.   (Courtesy of WXYZ via AP)

The vaping supplies distributor that went up in flames in suburban Detroit on Monday is suspected of illegally storing highly flammable materials, including canisters of butane, which likely contributed to explosions and debris that killed one person a quarter of a mile away. A 19-year-old man was watching the fire from a distance when he was struck in the head by a canister and died, Clinton Township Fire Chief Tim Duncan said Tuesday, per the AP. A firefighter was also injured by broken glass when a canister struck the windshield of a fire vehicle, Duncan said. He said canisters "went up like a missile" and became "shrapnel," per CNN. He said lithium batteries, switch blades, and knives also flew through the air.

Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said Tuesday that the business was not permitted to have butane canisters. "They were illegally in that building," he said at a news conference, per CNN. Building superintendent Barry Miller said the smoke and vape shop, Goo LLC, could have kept a certain quantity of canisters, but it was "well over" the allowable limit. In a statement, the township said the shop, located in a former supermarket, was holding "nitrous oxide, lighter fluid, and vape pens" in addition to the butane. It said "containers, or canisters, were 12 to 18 inches in size, weighing 10 to 15 pounds." Duncan said more than 100,000 vape pens were on site.

Goo was permitted to operate as a retail storefront with a back room for storage, but had requested permission to use the building for warehousing and distribution, Miller told reporters. Duncan said a business called Select Distributors, which is "one in the same" as Goo, was also operating out of the building. Employees were inside Goo's closed store, fulfilling online orders, when the fire broke out, authorities said. A cause has yet to be determined as the gutted building was still smoldering Tuesday. Duncan said firefighters had trouble accessing the building "due to the hundreds, if not thousands of explosions," per NBC News. The outlet reports residents were seen collecting canisters as possible souvenirs up to two miles from the site. (More Michigan stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.