Accelerant starts fire at liquor store

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 5, 2013

 The Eastpointe Police and Fire departments are investigating a suspicious two-alarm fire that tore through Liquor Land early in the morning Jan. 25.

The Eastpointe Police and Fire departments are investigating a suspicious two-alarm fire that tore through Liquor Land early in the morning Jan. 25.

Photo by Sara Kandel

EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe Fire Department is investigating a suspicious fire that broke out at a liquor store on Nine Mile Road around 5 a.m. Jan. 25.

Trucks from Detroit Arsenal and the St. Clair Shores, Warren and Roseville fire departments all responded to the scene to assist Eastpointe with the two-alarm fire at Liquor Land, located on Nine Mile Road, between Kelly and Gratiot.

“We had about 18 firefighters there at the scene, total, and then Center Line at the department,” said acting Fire Chief Ed Szymanski. “It went to a second alarm, which means we needed more manpower at the scene.”

Center Line sent a truck to the Eastpointe Fire Department to respond to any calls that came in while firefighters were still working to put out the Liquor Land fire.

No one was injured in the fire. Authorities said it appears to have been started intentionally.

“It is suspicious in nature,” said Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane. “Preliminary determination is that it did not develop accidentally or naturally. It’s now under investigation.”

The Michigan State Crime Lab processed chunks of the building, following the fire, looking at fire streaks and evidence of an accelerant. Officials have not released the information in the reports, but did confirm the evidence and reports were returned to the department Jan. 29.

“There is still other evidence that we are waiting on, but we have already received the large items back, which were sent to the lab to determine whether accelerants were used,” Szymanski said. “The lab confirmed an accelerant was used, but we cannot release any more information from the report at this time.”

The incident is still under investigation, but it is not believed that the fire was the work of a pyromaniac.

“Unless you have a streak of similar arsons going on, usually large-scale fires like this one have some reason behind them,” Duchane said. “It may be a little screwed up of a reason, but usually there is a reason.”

Szymanski could not speculate on a reason the incident happened but said he was working in joint effort with other departments — the Eastpointe Police Department and a fire marshal and investigator from the Roseville Fire Department — to determine all the facts behind the fire.

“We, the fire investigators, look at what caused the fire, where it was started and how, and the Police Department looks into who started the fire,” said Szymanski, adding that the department follows through in all cases of arson with similar vigor, and lately, there’s been quite a few cases popping up.

“We’ve had a number of incendiary fires and we are working with the Eastpointe Police Department, and the Roseville fire marshal is assisting, and we are aggressively pursuing criminal cases,” Szymanski said. “We had one that was just bound over (to Macomb County Circuit Court) yesterday and two more that we are close to an arrest on.

“We are trying to send a message that this is not tolerated in our city.”

Anyone with information regarding the Liquor Land fire or any incident or arson is asked to call acting Fire Chief Ed Szymanski of the Eastpointe Fire Department at (586) 445-4464.