HOWARD CITY — A cancer treatment manufacturing facility went up in a blaze Tuesday morning, with flames shooting 50 feet into the air.
The Howard City Fire Department responded to New Age BioScience at 6244 Henkel Road at 5:45 a.m. The building is located just off Federal Road (old 131) behind the VFW Hall south of Howard City.
Howard City Fire Chief Randy Heckman said fire departments from Amble, Lakeview, Maple Valley Township, Morley and Sand Lake were called in to assist, mostly for manpower. No one was in the building at the time of the fire.
“The main part of the building, the larger part, was fully involved when we got there,” Heckman said. “Flames were already through the roof, 50 feet into the air. We did our best to just keep it under control.”
While the main building was a total loss, firefighters were able to save the office and the back building.
Firefighters were at the scene at least eight hours. Even after firefighters cleared the scene around 2 p.m., the fire continued to flare up in spots. Heckman said he expects flare-ups for the next two or three days due to hot steel and smoldering materials.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown. A fire marshal is coming to look at the scene this morning.
“I’m not going to say somebody set it on fire,” Heckman said. “There’s so much damage that it’s almost impossible to tell how it started. Everything burned so hard in there. It’s going to be like finding a needle in haystack.”
Heckman said he has responded to dryer fires outside the facility in the past, but nothing suspicious. He said the building has recently been for sale.
“They’ve been having some break-ins, I guess,” Heckman said.
New Age BioScience harvests, transports, processes and exports yew trees for the extraction of a substance which is used in chemotherapy in the United States, Europe and Australia.