Magnesium-Fueled Factory Fire in MI

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 @ 09:03 AM gHale

Flames were visible for miles as a fire, fueled by magnesium, ripped through part of a metal factory in Petoskey, MI, Saturday night.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found semi-trailers on fire and learned magnesium was a part of the blaze, which started at 10:30 p.m. at ZD Metal Products. 

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“It was a very, very bright fire, you could see it from miles,” said Glen Pemberton, quality manager at ZD Metal Products.

The fire tore through part of ZD Metal, said Resort Bear Creek Fire Chief, Al Welsheimer, who added it started in the shipping area, possibly from tools and then ignited the magnesium. 

“What they were hearing as far as explosions was actual magnesium blowing up. When magnesium gets hot or water touches it, it causes like a little explosion, so it will blow up and so there was four semi-trailers,” Welsheimer said.

Firefighters had to let the magnesium burn out while working, to prevent the fire from spreading. The chief said six people were inside when the fire started and one person went to the hospital for smoke inhalation and later released.

“I would say a third of that building, the shipping area and their office area, is a complete loss, but the factory is still intact,” Welsheimer said.

ZD Metal was on scene and their safety plan truly came into play.

“I’d like to really thank the fire departments and everyone that responded last night. Thank God for what they do because of things like this. We have safety protocols and we have fire walls on the inside to restrict if there was a fire and how far it can go. The firewall did its job last night to ensure that it didn’t spread through the rest of the building,” Pemberton said.

The company was planning on meeting to figure out the next move for the company.

“It’s going to affect the business, but I think we will come up with a good plan. We have another plant as well, so getting everything set up and going to those other plants are going to be key,” Pemberton said.

Investigators said their initial reaction is the fire appears to be and accident.

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