30 cars destroyed in massive fire at Buff Whelan Chevrolet in Sterling Heights

Fire started while janitor cleaned service area

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A fire broke out Tuesday at the Buff Whelan Chevrolet car dealership in Sterling Heights, destroying at least 30 cars and badly damaging the building.

The fire began around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the service area of the dealership when a janitor was cleaning the floor and a machine he was using sparked the flames. The fire spread quickly. 

"We're hearing a lot of explosions right now," Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin said. "We're dealing with a lot of chemicals. There's a paint shop with a lot of paint. There's a storage of over 150 airbags that are explosive."

The fire broke out in the center of the building and quickly spread to the combustibles.

"We've got maybe 20 or more cars, some of them still burning, in the heart of the building," Martin said.

The number of cars burned grew to up to 30 by Wednesday morning. Workers could only look on and watch the shop burn down.

Officials said 12 different fire departments responded to the scene. There were no injuries reported.

Viewers from as far as 5 miles away from the dealership called Local 4 and said they could see the pillar of black smoke.