Electrical fire causes evacuations at Penobscot Building in Downtown Detroit

No injuries reported

Firefighters at the Penobscot Building on Jan. 17, 2020. (WDIV)

DETROIT – A fire that caused evacuations at the Penobscot Building in Downtown Detroit started inside the freight elevator in the elevator shaft, Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell said.

Nobody was injured during the incident, officials said.

It was a maintenance or mechanical issue, firefighters said. The electrical fire started on the fifth floor, but the smoke could be seen from the 28th floor. Witnesses told Local 4 they could see the smoke from the 40th floor, as well.

“It appears to be, at the time we came down, in the second tower -- we were on the 44th, 43rd, 42nd floors,” one witness said. “There was smoke billowing out of the freight elevator, but we don’t know how far it spread. There was smoke on every floor.”

“Oh my gosh, crying,” another person said. “I started freaking out, calling my mom, texting my fiance, everything. We made it out safe. I was worried for the people who were moving a little bit slower with canes, but everyone made it out OK.”

Fornell said the smoke is dissipating slowly, but surely inside the building.

About the Authors:

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.