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Detroit warehouse fire prompts health complaints


Onlookers watch as a large plume of smoke rises above a warehouse building on Detroit's west side on Sept. 26.


DETROIT  — Some people who work near the site of a big warehouse fire last month say they have been experiencing health problems, including trouble breathing, since the blaze.

Several workers at Bridging Communities, an area service organization, had blisters, cellulitis or respiratory problems after the Sept. 26 fire near its office, Executive Director Phyllis Edwards told WXYZ-TV. Smoke could be seen for miles around the fire near Interstate 94.

“We want to know what was in that building,” Edwards said. “What exactly was being stored there?”

Raoul Mangrum, who owns the building that burned, said he stored medical waste at the building for his company Biochem Technical Services. Mangrum told the station that what was being stored wasn’t dangerous, and that there were no chemicals being stored.

“Somebody burned the building, so however they’re getting sick, they’re getting sick from the fire which I had nothing to do with,” Mangrum said.

Authorities said Mangrum isn’t suspected of setting the fire, which is being investigated as arson. No one has been charged with setting the blaze.

At the time of the fire, crews worked from outside the structure because of concerns that there might be hazardous waste inside. Fire officials said that neighbors reported witnessing people dumping boxes with biohazard markings in the building.

“I’ve never had asthma, and I couldn’t breathe,” said Vaughnia Vega, who works at Bridging Communities and said she has been sick since the fire.

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