ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A large fire was allowed to burn at Fox Pools on Alpine Avenue NW Wednesday because of environmental concerns.
Four people were inside the business, located at 6411 Alpine Avenue in Alpine Township, when someone saw smoke in the back of the building around 10 a.m. Wednesday, officials at the scene said. Everyone was able to get out safely.
Between five and 10 minutes later, the whole building was on fire, according to crews at the scene.
>>Photos: Fire at Fox Pools
“We thought it would be something, quick fix,” employee Lauren Fox said. “She thought it was a pump smoking and then it just lit, and everything started to burn.”
“All the chemicals back there, we knew it was going to be bad,” employee Bekah Nagy added.
Punctuated by explosions, the fire sent thick, black smoke billowing into the sky.
Due to the chemicals — like chlorine, bromine and muriatic acid — in the building, firefighters treated the fire as a hazmat situation.They decided to let the building burn rather than dump water on it, concerned the chemicals could run off into groundwater.
However, officials said they did not need to evacuate area homes and businesses because a western wind was blowing any toxins from the fire toward an open area consisting mainly of farmland.
“The good news is this is in a rural area and there’s no downwind worries, if you will, of the smoke causing any health concerns for people,” Grand Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Bart Perry said.
Crews from multiple departments remained on scene for hours as the building burned.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
“It’s just sad to see all of this, ’cause this is like our home in the summer, this is where we all hang out, but we’ll rebuild,” Nagy said.
A section of Alpine Avenue had to be shut down between 7 Mile Road and 8 Mile Road Thursday morning and early afternoon. However, as of 2:45 p.m., the road was completely reopen, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.