Apartment fire forces evacuations in Shelby Township

Posted at 4:20 AM, May 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 15:38:16-04

An overnight fire had more than a dozen families scrambling to evacuate their homes in their pajamas.

The fire chief says it was all a candle that caused the frightening moments.

The neighbors who live in the complex spent most of their morning going back through these apartment units, trying to save whatever personal possessions they could. A lot of these units have smoke and water damage, if they're not completely destroyed.

Neighbors shot this video of flames shooting through the roof of a building at the Pebble Creek Apartments in Shelby Twp.

"To see the blaze like that, it was horrible, just horrible," Michele Turner lives inside this 12-unit building that was evacuated around 2:30 a.m. Monday.

She says she woke up to the smell of smoke.

"I ran to the patio to check, to see. When I looked I out I just saw the balcony blazing.”

As she was getting her family out, other neighbors and police were banging on doors, waking up people who were still asleep like Dorothy Fox.

"They were banging and ringing the bell, so I knew something was wrong."

Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski tells us a candle started the blaze that left this damage.
A man fell asleep in this downstairs unit, waking up to his couch on fire. He and his son opened their sliding patio door to get the couch out… the fire chief calling that move a big mistake.

"It introduced all this fresh air and oxygen in there and the fire just started burning like crazy. And it burned right up the outside of the building to the second floor and then to the attack," said Chief Jim Swinkowski, Shelby Twp. Fire Department.

Four total units are destroyed, leaving many people without a home. The chief says this large blaze could have been contained to just this unit or even just a living room had that sliding door never been opened.

"If you see something like that smoldering, if you just leave and don't open up any doors or windows, it will not have enough oxygen to keep burning."
No one was injured from this apartment fire, and the biggest lesson for neighbors, never leave a candle lit. "I put out candles and sometimes I leave my candle lit in the bathroom, not no more."

A reminder from the fire chief, if you're ever in a situation get out of the room or building immediately, call 911 and make sure all the doors and windows are shut to keep that fire contained.