Massive Buff Whelan fire believed to have started from floorscrubber

- A four-alarm fire ripped through the Buff Whelan Chevrolet dealership in Sterling Heights Tuesday night.

Most of the damage is in the back of the dealer on 18 Mile, including the body shop and service center. About six cars have been lost in the fire but no one was injured.

About four or five employees were inside when it started and said they heard about four or five explosions beforehand and left the building. An electric floor scrubber is believed to have started the fire, which then grew due to the chemicals.

"We heard that a cleaning crew was scrubbing the floor and then a fire started," said Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin. "We don't know what exactly caused it, we've got no injuries, the cleaning crew was able to get out. No firefighters were reported to be hurt right now.

Four alarm fire at Buff Whelan Chevy dealership in Sterling Heights

"We're just keeping the guys hydrated and we got a lot of help from a lot of communities which we greatly appreciated. The fire kept expanding and expanding. Right now we're up to a four-alarm because the guys worked so hard in this heat, we need to get them some rehab."

Right now, the dealership does not have phone service. If you have a question you may email and someone will get back with you as soon as possible while phone service is being restored. 

Martin said it was the largest fire his city has ever had. Mutual aid from surrounding cities were able to get the fire under control.

Onlookers said that the smoke could be seen from miles away. 

Wednesday afternoon, owner of Buff Whelan Kerry Whelan released the following statement: 

“We can’t thank enough all of the firefighters and first responders who tirelessly worked throughout the night. We don’t know what started the fire, and won’t have any information until the investigation is complete. However, the fire was contained in the Service Department and thankfully no one was hurt. Our new and used car departments are still open and will carry on with ‘business as usual’. We have all the vehicle inventory anyone needs. We would also like to thank our remarkable employees for their commitment and dedication, as well as the community for the outpouring of concern and support.”


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