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    19-year-old killed by flying canister from fiery explosion

    By Emily Shapiro,


    A 19-year-old who was a quarter mile away from a fiery explosion in Michigan was struck in the head and killed by a canister that flew into the air from the blast, according to fire officials.

    Butane containers caught fire Monday night at a vaping distributing company in Clinton Township, about 25 miles outside of Detroit, the Clinton Fire Department said.
    WXYZ - PHOTO: Fire fighters appear on the scene of an explosion, March 4, 2024, in Clinton Township, Mich.
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    The vape company had recently received a semi-load of butane containers, and over half of that was still at the facility as of Monday night, officials said. The company also had pallets of nitrous and lighter fluid, and over 100,000 vape pens with lithium batteries inside, officials said.

    Clinton Township Fire Chief Tim Duncan described it as a "tremendous amount of fire."

    "In my 25 years ... this, by far, was the biggest one that I've ever seen," Duncan told reporters Tuesday morning.

    The blast shook cars that were 1 to 2 miles away, officials said.

    The blast sent debris -- including blades -- flying into the air, officials said. The debris field was likely a half-mile in each direction, officials said.
    @smhegzz14/Instagram - PHOTO: In a video posted to Instagram, an explosion is seen, March 4, 2024, in Clinton Township, Mich.

    One firefighter was hurt from the blast when a "piece of debris went through the windshield and clipped him on the side of his face," said Clinton Township Emergency Management Coordinator Paul Brouwer.

    The firefighter has been treated and released from the hospital, Brouwer said.
    WXYZ - PHOTO: The aftermath of an explosion that ocurred March 4, 2024, is seen on from an aerial view in Clinton Township, Mich., March 5, 2024.

    The explosions prevented responders from reaching the fire immediately, the Clinton Fire Department said. When officers did arrive on the scene, they found "materials flying in all directions from the building," officials said.

    Clinton Township police warned Monday night, "We can not stress enough the danger that is happening right now. Please, please, please stay inside and out of the vicinity. Debris is being projected into the air and coming down as far as a mile away from the explosion."

    Residents and businesses in the area were evacuated, police said.
    WXYZ - PHOTO: Fire fighters appear on the scene of an explosion, March 4, 2024, in Clinton Township, Mich.

    Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said at a news conference, "Our thoughts and prayers and sadness to the family, friends and loved ones and the community of the loss of the life of the 19-year-old out in the street that got hit by one of those pieces of shrapnel."

    "Just walking the streets and getting hit by something like that, completely unexpected," Hackel said. "And I couldn't think of anything sadder as an outcome for this particular situation."

    Hackel added, "If you happen to see something that looks concerning to you, please don't touch it, don't pick it up. When in doubt, give us a call and we'll check it out for you to make sure that nobody else gets harmed."
    WXYZ - PHOTO: A 19-year-old was killed when they were struck by a flying canister from an industrial explosion and fire in Clinton Township, Mich., late Monday, March 4, 2024.

    Officials said the business owners and staff associated with the explosion have been "very cooperative" and "forthright" in the ongoing investigation. Police are continuing to question the owner and staff members to determine what occurred.

    The store passed inspection in May 2022 and obtained their certificate of occupancy in September 2022, officials said.

    The store had a backroom to store products, and "at the time of inspection there, there were no canisters," Clinton Township building inspector Barry Miller said. "There are allowable quantities for certain things you can put in those rooms -- they did not exceed any of those quantities. Obviously with what happened last night, they were well over what would have been allowable for that for that site."

    Since 2022, "nobody from the township has been in that building for the purpose of inspections," Miller said.

    Investigators said they are working to identify quantities of canisters and other materials on-site to determine if any codes were broken.

    ABC News' Jianna Cousin contributed to this report.

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