Pontiac Trail reopens after smoke plume at Wixom plant

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

A major road in Wixom has reopened after suspicious smoke from a nearby factory caused road closures and fears of evacuations, according to police.

Authorities opened Pontiac Trail around 8:30 a.m. near the Korex Manufacturing Plant, said Lt. Ron Moore of the Wixom Police Department. The roadway was closed around 2:30 a.m. for about a mile and a half stretch after a smoke alarm at the closed plant summoned authorities and the Oakland County HAZMAT team, who observed a suspicious “plume of light smoke” coming from the building.

“There were no flames, no structure fire,” Moore said. “We took that very seriously, not knowing the origin” of the smoke.

Police immediately set a perimeter and did not allow area business owners access to open their shops, Moore said.

“We do take the public’s safety very, very seriously,” he said. “We were prepared to do evacuations — there are houses to the north of this plant. Fortunately we didn’t have to do that because (the Wixom Fire Department) got the preliminary reports pretty quickly, (which indicated) that there was not toxicity in the plume.”

Those preliminary reports rolled in around 6:30 a.m., Moore said, but the road and area businesses remained closed.

“We still were not comfortable because those were just preliminary reports,” Moore said. “They still had not found the origin of the plume.”

Final reports came in just after 8 a.m., Moore said.

“They found the origin of the plume, they stabilized it and they confirmed positively no toxicity in the plume,” Moore said of the fire department and HAZMAT efforts. “We opened up all the roadways and we’re now slowly allowing the businesses to enter and conduct their business for the day.

“The situation is now stable and all the businesses, with the exception of Korex, can be open,” Moore continued. “That investigation is still ongoing.”

Moore said that while the origin has been identified and stabilized, authorities are continuing their investigation into what caused the plume of smoke.

“It came from within the plant, it’s just a matter of finding out how this happened, (for example) was it a combination of product that shouldn’t have been together,” he said. “Now that we know there’s no public threat, they can proceed very methodically with their investigation.”

Moore praised teamwork by local and area fire departments, the HAZMAT team as well as patience from area business owners.

“The Oakland County hazardous material team; they’re the experts. They’re highly trained and they’re very good at what they do,” he said. “And I noticed a lot of patience from the public. They were gathering on the outside perimeter near where we had the police line set up.

“They were incredibly gracious and patient and I appreciate that. I do want to publicly say that. We recognize for a business owner, that (being closed all morning) is a hardship. But we had to do what we had to do.”

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

Twitter: @HollyPFournier