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Sterling Heights — Firefighters Tuesday extinguished a blaze inside a machine at the Ford Sterling Axle plant in Sterling Heights, officials said.

Fire Chief Chris Martin said firefighters were called to the factory, located on Mound Road at 17 Mile, to respond to the fire at about 4:45 a.m.

"We encountered a very large production machine that had 30,000 gallons of oil inside of it," he said. "The oil was burning inside of the machine."

He said crews worked for about an hour to fight the fire, but they were challenged by limited access to the machine and heavy smoke in the building.

Firefighters called for a second crew to help and were able to get extinguishing foam inside the machine to put it out. The fire was under control by about 7:30 a.m., officials said.

Martin said no Ford employees or firefighters were injured.

He also said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Officials for Ford Motor Co. said the machine is used to supply oil to the factory's machinery.

The company issued a statement that said: "Employees at the Sterling Axle Plant annex building were evacuated early this morning when a system that supplies oil to machinery on site caught fire. No one was injured. While portions of the plant are closed for the traditional summer shutdown, this section was running."

The 3,000,000-square-foot plant opened in 1956 and produces rear drive units, front axles, rear axles and gears. It sits on about 171 acres of land and has about 2,400 employees.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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