FERRYSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — Fire broke out at a business near Grand Haven on Saturday afternoon.
Just before 2 p.m., firefighters responded to Johnston Boiler Company on Pine Street and 3rd in Ferrysburg. Smoke could be seen billowing from the factory.
Pine Street to Royale Lane and westbound M-104 (W Savidge Street) at Pine Street were both closed while firefighters from at least seven fire departments battled the blaze. M-104 reopened around 9 p.m.
Firefighters said they were in “defensive mode” while working to extinguish the fire. Authorities were asking people to avoid the area.
While crews battled the flames, a large bang went off, forcing firefighters to leave the building, said Lyn Peters, who witnessed the moment.
“They started putting water on it, the firemen had gone inside for a little while, and then all of a sudden an explosion happened. All the firemen ran out and they kept fighting it from the outside,” Peters said. “I don’t know what it was, but it was a loud boom. A sheriff came and told us to back up, he didn’t even like being this close to it. And he was obviously concerned for our safety.”
No injuries have been reported.
By 4:45 p.m., the situation seemed to have improved. Smoke could no longer be seen rising from the building.
Johnston Boiler Company has been in Ferrysburg for nearly 160 years, according to the company’s website.
“It’s one of the staples of revenue for Ferrysburg. Johnston Boiler has been working across the world. Their products are all over. This is quite a loss,” said Ron Vandernoot, who lives nearby.
Fire officials told David Reinink, the President and CEO of Johnston Boiler Company, that the fire started out near an oven. Part of the roof above the oven area is gone, as well as the siding.
Reinink said the fire was a complete surprise and has no idea what triggered the fire. There was no damage in the office, but it did smell like smoke, he said. Reinink assumes the north side of the building is undamaged. The south side does have a bit of damage, he said.
After the flames and smoke are out, Reinink said he was told firefighters were focusing on putting out hotspots and would be at the scene for a while. They were concerned with heat going across the roof, firefighters told him.
Reinink was pleased with the firefighters’ response, saying, “they did a fantastic job.”
A crowd, filled with employees and longtime residents, was outside the business throughout the day.
“This place has been here a long time,” Jen Vert, who lives nearby, said. “I feel for the employees. It’s very sad.”