Fire in a Shelby Township Senior Apartment Complex

SHELBY TWP., Mich.(WXYZ) - The sound of an explosion woke up people at the Shelby Manor Senior Apartments Saturday morning.

Soon many realized they were trapped inside a smoke-filled burning building.

"I thought I was a gonner for sure!," said Father Leonard Sypinski, after being rescued from the fire.

The retired priest says he was in his apartment when he heard the sound of an explosion.  When he looked into the hall the smoke was thick, the ceiling was falling, and he realized he was trapped.

Then firefighters came barging into his apartment. They took him out onto his balcony.

"They put me over the railing, into a bucket, and lowered me three stories," said Sypinski. "I am so lucky."

Shelby Township Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski says Sypinski is only one of more than 2 dozen people rescued from the upper floors of the building.

"It was horrifying for us," said Swinkowski. "You want to get water on the fire as soon as possible, but you know you have seniors, some who are immobile.  With the smoke inhalation possibility, you gotta get them out."

Firefighters called for backup. Numerous surrounding communities came to help.  In the end everyone got out of the building safely. Some were treated at the scene for minor injuries, but no one had to be taken to the hospital.

Residents voiced concerns about where they would be living, whether there would be assistance paying for hotel stays, and how they would get their belongings. 

Apartment managers told 7 Action News they were  too busy helping 88 residents now displaced to comment.  

Firefighters called on the Salvation Army and the Red Cross to help.  

The fire chief says the cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is possible something went wrong with a furnace.

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