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Family identifies loved ones in double fatal house fire in Detroit

Posted at 6:25 PM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 19:45:16-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A Detroit family is mourning a double loss after an early morning house fire on the city's west side. It happened on Pingree Street around 6:30 a.m.

Deputy Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the bodies were burned beyond recognition. Two adults were found in the first floor unit where authorities told the fire started.

"I just instantly hopped up and came over here. I'm hoping that's it's not him," said Angela Randolph, one of the victim’s niece.

Even for family members there’s uncertainty as to who died in the fire.

"We hoping it's not our brother in there. For sure it was one of our uncles,” Randolph told 7 Action News.

They say one of the victims is their uncle, Gene Harris. Also, they say they're having trouble contacting their brother Frederick Rushing. Both lived on the first floor where firefighters found them in the front room.

“It was extremely intense. It went into the second floor, and then of course it ended up burning into the roof area," Fornell explained.

That second floor unit was unoccupied at the time. Fornell says while this fire isn't being investigated as suspicious, it's not clear if the pair died before the fire.

"Because of the condition of the bodies, the medical examiner is going to have to do an autopsy and then if something happened to them before then it would be determined then. At this particular point here we can't determine that,” he said.

The family believes something more is at play and are calling for a thorough investigation as they await definitive confirmation on who died.
Randolph said, "I mean, all we can do is pray and hope that it's not (Frederick).”

"We just really want to find out. We just really want answers and we just really, if it is anything, we really want justice and that's just kind of where we are right now,” she said.

Authorities say the exact cause of the fire hasn't been determined and remains under investigation.