MONTCALM TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Firefighters from Montcalm Township and surrounding areas are finally starting to rest and recover as the Michigan State Police start their investigation into the fire that destroyed Keystone Automotive Industries.
Fire chief Clif Dickinson said, "That was one of our worst fears. That was our worst fear, that building ever catching fire."
That worst fear came true Saturday night. One of Montcalm County's biggest buildings was destroyed by flames.
No one was working at the time. Dickinson says his department had just done a walk-through one month ago for their monthly training. He says firefighters familiarized themselves with the layout in order to plan for disaster.
"It was pretty much bring the whole county in order to fight this fire. Like I said, it raced through the building and we didn't have a chance to stop it, which is unfortunate," he said.
It was a 16-hour battle fought by 10 departments, Dickinson says, at arm's length because of the heat and the building's dangerous condition upon discovery.
The chief says outside departments called in by mutual and automatic aid were pulled off the assignment as the situation became progressively under control.
"Most of the exertion comes from when we start putting on packs and actually start getting up in there. We did have guys in packs 'cause most of the time on the north end we were downwind of the smoke and the smoke was blowing at us. So we had guys in packs fighting it on that end. But like I said, we didn't do a whole lot with hose lines, it was all from the trucks," he explained.
The chief says state police started their investigation last night. At this point, it's not clear what will happen to the dozens of men and women who worked at the factory.