Firefighters battle business blaze near Grand Haven | WJMN

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FERRYSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — A fire broke out at a business near Grand Haven on Saturday afternoon.

Just before 2 p.m., firefighters responded to the Johnston Boiler Company on Pine and 3rd Street in Ferrysburg. Smoke could be seen billowing from the factory.

Pine Street at 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” as they worked to put out the blaze. Authorities were asking people to avoid the area.

As crews battled the flames, a loud bang went off, forcing firefighters out of the building, said Lyn Peters, who witnessed the moment.

“They started to put water on it, the firefighters had gone inside for a little while, then all of a sudden an explosion happened. All the firefighters ran away and they continued to fight it from the outside,” Peters said. “I don’t know what it was, but it was a big bang. A sheriff came and told us to back off, he didn’t even like being that close. And he was obviously worried about our safety.

No injuries were reported.

Around 4:45 p.m., the situation seemed to have improved. No more smoke could be seen rising from the building.

Johnston Boiler Company has been in Ferrysburg for nearly 160 years, according to the Company Website.

“It’s one of Ferrysburg’s basic incomes. Johnston Boiler has worked around the world. Their products are everywhere. It’s a hell of a loss,” said Ron Vandernoot, who lives nearby.

Firefighters told Johnston Boiler Company president and CEO David Reinink that the fire started near a furnace. Part of the roof above the oven area is missing, along with the cladding.

Reinink said the fire came as a complete surprise and has no idea what started the blaze. There was no damage to the office, but it smelled of smoke, he said. Reinink assumes the north side of the building is intact. The south side has a bit of damage, he said.

After the flames and smoke were extinguished, Reinink said he was told firefighters were focused on extinguishing hot spots and would be on the scene for a while. They were worried the heat was going through the roof, firefighters told him.

Reinink said he 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 around for a long time,” said Jen Vert, who lives nearby. “I have sympathy for the employees. It’s very sad.”

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