Two killed, five injured in early morning Pontiac fire

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Posted at 1:48 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 23:46:36-05

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Two people were killed and five others injured in an early Monday morning fire at a home in the 800 block of St. Clair Street in Pontiac.

Police say the home in the area of Kennett Road and Baldwin Avenue was engulfed in flames when deputies and the Waterford Regional Fire Department arrived on the scene around 2:45 a.m. Eleven adults were reportedly in the building at the time of the fire. Tim Miner was one of them.

“Everything I own is in that house, I have nothing,” Miner said. "I just couldn't see anything except for the smoke and the flames, I didn't know where anyone was.”

A 36-year-old man told deputies that he had jumped from a second-story window, but his 19-year-old stepson, a man with autism who was staying with him, had refused. The younger man was not seen leaving the building and has not been accounted for.

One neighbor, Lachen Herring, says she called 911 and was helping people jump from the burning home. Her home directly next door was also damaged.

"Help! Help! Can I get down? I got to jump, I got to jump,” Herring recalled hearing from those trapped in the home. "It was horrifying. Listening to them and you don't know what to do."

Firefighters found one body in a second-floor bedroom. A second was found on the first floor in the kitchen. Neither victim has been identified.

Two Pontiac men in their 60s were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. A 58-year-old Pontiac man suffered a broken leg. Other injuries are still being assessed, but none are considered life threatening.

Pontiac City Councilwoman Kathalee James came by the home Monday hoping to get the American Red Cross involved. She also vowed to look into the cause of the fire and the conditions the house was in before it happened.

"I feel like we need to investigate this and see what happened," James said. "We want to bring the full resources of the city of Pontiac of our inspections services department to look at this incident.”

Miner, who was released from prison in November, says recent parolees lived in the home. The Michigan Department of Corrections says the home is not contracted or paid for by their department and that the parolees paid to stay there on their own.

The work is now on to find a new home for those left with nothing.

“They cannot be displaced like that," James said. "They’ve got to have a warm shelter tonight, they’ve got to have resources to be able to move their lives on.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.