Explosive fire at Michigan vape supplier site sends debris ‘flying through the air,’ killing 1

Explosions in Clinton Township, Mich. Monday night at a vaping supply building sent countless pieces of dangerous debris raining down on neighborhoods. The debris included large metal canisters, switchblades and other pieces of shrapnel. 

A 19-year-old man walking a quarter mile away from the building was hit by one of the projectiles and later died

Investigators were still checking on Tuesday just how far projectiles flew and were asking residents to check their yards and roofs. Residents around the county reported hearing the explosions and feeling their homes shake. 

RELATED: Clinton Township explosions kill man who was 1/4 mile away

Clinton Township explosions

The explosions happened Monday night after a fire broke out at a building that housed a supplier for the vaping industry, Goo and Select Distributors. 

Clinton Township Fire Chief Tim Duncan said nitrous tanks, butane, lighter fluid, and more than 100,000 vape pens with lithium batteries were inside the building and exploded. 

Barry Miller, with the city's building department, said that the business was issued a certificate of occupancy to operate a store. The business was not supposed to have canisters of nitrous oxide or butane.

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RELATED: Clinton Township explosion: What's known, unknown after building leveled by blasts

The flying shrapnel was so intense that firefighters weren’t initially able to approach the scene. 

"When you first get to the scene and you realize the enormity of it, and just, your vehicle a mile or two away (is) shaking as you’re approaching the scene, you’re like, ‘What are we getting ourselves into?’" said Duncan. 

A firefighter was injured when one of the flying canisters struck the windshield of a fire vehicle. 

"We made the decision early on, we have to back out. There is no way we can put somebody this close to the scene. Even when we’re at a distance, these things are flying over a quarter of a mile away," Duncan said at a press conference Tuesday morning. "Debris filled probably a half mile in every direction."

Authorities are looking into exactly what products were in the building – and also which of those products should not have been there. 

"We really don’t know. We have estimates but we really don’t know because a lot of it’s all around the township right now. It blew up," said city supervisor Bob Cannon, who lives five miles away and thought it was thundering over his house when he heard the explosions.

He said authorities were questioning some people who had connections to the building Tuesday, adding, "There are going to be repercussions." 

The initial cause of the fire is unknown. 

Clinton Township is about 30 miles northeast of Detroit. 

This story was reported from Detroit.