Cause of Westland fire that killed firefighter still under investigation

(WXYZ) - Two investigations continue into the cause of a Westland fire and how a young firefighter was trapped inside a strip mall Wednesday morning. 

Sources tell 7 Action News that the autopsy shows 29-year-old Brian Woehlke died of smoke and soot inhalation. 

There were no other signs of trauma on his body such as bruises or broken bones. Sources say this is significant because while he had on turnout gear, he was not likely injured by a collapsing roof.  But it could have caused him to become disoriented. 

Investigators include the Wayne-Westland Fire Marshal and MIOSHA from the state to look into the death of the firefighter. 

Nothing has been determined in the cause of the fire and the cause of the entrapment. The local fire chief declined to discuss the investigations. 

A memorial continues to grow at the fence of where the fire happened to remember Woehlke. People young and old from the community have come to pay their respects and say prayers at the site.

"Our building can be replaced but his life can't," said Melissa Mulka. She is the granddaughter of the owners of the Electric Stick pool hall and their restaurant. Mulka organized a vigil Wednesday night for Woehlke.

"Brian you know just waited and waited to get on the fire dept. He was an EMT driver for a long time. And when he finally got it he was just thrilled to death," his uncle Art Habitz told 7 Action News earlier in the day.

Habitz said the only thing Brian loved doing more than fighting fires was being a father to his 13-month-old daughter Ava, and a husband to his wife Jennifer.

"Got married about 4 years ago and they have a little one year old daughter who is priceless. He was a great father a great husband.  I just can't say anything bad about Brian. He was just a terrific kid.  We're going to miss him all to pieces," said Habitz. 

Brian's family will accept visitors at the Harry J. Will Funeral Home at 34567 Michigan Avenue in Wayne on Saturday, May 11 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday, May 12 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Mass is scheduled for Monday, May 13 at 11 a.m. at Divine Child Catholic Church at 1055 N. Silvery Lane in Dearborn with a full formal firefighter procession to follow to St. Hedwigs Cemetery.

Contributions to the "Brian Woehlke Charity" may be made to the Westland Fire Fighters Charity, P.O. Box 851320, Westland, MI 48185, or may be delivered to any of the five Wayne Westland Fire Stations. 

Inquires may be directed to Kevin Tomaszewski, General Secretary/Treasurer at 313-505-8130 or to Fire Station #1 at 734-721-2001

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