3 hurt in Detroit industrial plant blast, fire

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
Firefighters responded to a blaze at a plant at 19300 Filer in Detroit early on Jan. 3, 2019. Three people were hospitalized.

Detroit — Three people were hospitalized early Thursday morning after a fire at a titanium plant on Detroit’s east side.

Firefighters responded to the 19300 block of Filer, north of East Seven Mile and just east of Mount Elliott, at 2:41 a.m., said Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner of the Detroit Fire Department.

Fornell said three people, all men, were transported with injuries: a 27-year-old who suffered vomiting and nausea, a 45-year-old who suffered back, leg and facial pain, and a 46-year-old who suffered back and leg pain and burns to one hand.

Thursday afternoon, Fornell confirmed it was a dust explosion that took place. It happened as a machine that shreds titanium to granular form was turned on.

The fire burned through part of the roof and burned a nearby golf cart with tools in it. But the machine itself was not damaged in the fire.

The explosion did create a Hazmat situation, Fornell said, which forced the fire department to move cautiously in battling the blaze.

The facility is owned by Global Titanium Inc., whose website describes the company as an “integrated manufacturer of titanium metallurgical products.” Global Titanium has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The fire was quickly extinguished, Fornell said.

Bob Swenson, president of Global Titanium, told The News that power has been shut off at the building in question, and that the company would not know what caused it until it conducted its investigation. That work is expected to begin later Thursday morning.

Swenson said that the Detroit Fire Department and DTE Energy were "excellent as usual" in responding to the emergency. Swenson said he doesn't have official conditions of the injured workers, but is heartened that "they were not carried out in stretchers."

As for the Hazmat situation, Fornell said there were no hazardous materials in the air that would affect public health. Workers on site refused comment to reporters, but continued in their work in the hours after the blaze.