Highland Park residents worry about health after warehouse blaze

- It's been more than a week since a massive fire erupted from a warehouse in Highland Park.

And the fire continues to burn. The air feels thick and the people living nearby say it's difficult to breathe.
So is it safe? Residents say no one is telling them if their health is endangered.

The moment people living in this area in Highland park step outside, they can smell what's left of the massive warehouse that caught fire last week.

"I don't think it is, not for me," said Tia Blair. "Not for my daughter. There is a lot of elderly people here, we have the Skyrise building here."

Blair was one of several  Highland Park residents forced to leave their homes after the fire. More than a week later, she doesn't know why she was allowed to come back.

"I came home and (there) was soot all over my walls, all over my daughter's doll house  all over my appliances in the kitchen," she said.

"I think they should come out and do some kind of inspection to make sure it is safe for everyone to be home, rather than to just tell us to go back home," said Jessica Johnson.

Fire Chief Kevin Coney says that's happening now. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is conducting tests to determine if the air is safe.

If it is not ...

"We would have to come up with another plan if it gets to that aspect of it," Coney said. "We'll come up with a plan of attack through us, the legal department and city hall."

And that's not going over well

"In the meantime we sit here we keep breathing in this air," said Blair. "We keep not being able to open our windows, basically stuck in our homes until they decide. Then when we face another evacuation and then it's going to be a bunch of 'I don't knows.'"

That's because hotspots are still burning  inside the remains of the 500,000 square-foot warehouse. Smoldering rubble fell into its basement keeping some flames alive.

Investigators have not been able to get inside to figure out how it all started. And it will likely  be a few days  before firefighters can put it all out.

"In my career being here 21 years, that's the biggest fire we've seen in the city of Highland Park," Coney said.

And it could be a big health scare for the few hundred people who live nearby. They will find out for sure when the air quality test results come back either Friday or next week.

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