A vehicle from the Department of Public Services was called in to help clear away a collapsed structure after a fire broke out at a detached garage in Madison Heights Dec. 23.

A vehicle from the Department of Public Services was called in to help clear away a collapsed structure after a fire broke out at a detached garage in Madison Heights Dec. 23.

Photo provided by Daniel Jasina


Holiday fire burns down two-car garage

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published January 4, 2018

MADISON HEIGHTS — A detached two-car garage went down in flames the day before Christmas Eve, with investigators saying a portable heater may be to blame. 

The incident occurred at noon Dec. 23 at 27417 Park Court, north of 11 Mile Road. According to Madison Heights Fire Marshal Paul Biliti, the structure spans about 650 square feet on its own property lot. He said that when firefighters arrived at the scene, the smoke and flames had risen nearly 30 feet in the air. 

The property owner and another person were found outside the garage. They were treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation and then released. 

The fire marshal said that the garage itself contained multiple propane and acetylene tanks that exploded due to the intense heat. 

“The official cause of the fire is ‘undetermined,’ but the investigation suggests that a propane-fed portable heater is to blame,” Biliti said. 

Automatic aid was provided by the Ferndale Fire Department. Since the garage also partially collapsed from the intense fire conditions, the Madison Heights Department of Public Services also got involved, demolishing the building with a front-end loader. 

The DPS also had to clear multiple vehicles and large items from the immediate area in order for the firefighters to have room to do their work.   

“Due to the partial structural collapse of the garage and the small explosions from the compressed gas cylinders, it was unsafe to send firefighters inside for an aggressive interior attack,” Biliti said. “We were forced to use defensive firefighting tactics, including a master stream to provide large volumes of water for extinguishment. The fire was brought under control within 15 minutes.” 

If a heater is to blame, Biliti said it follows a trend the department sees each year from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, when the number of structure fires tends to increase.

“When using space heaters, especially propane-fed forced air heaters, you want to make sure they are placed at least 36 inches from combustibles,” Biliti said, “and that you have adequate ventilation so you won’t be overcome by the dangerous fumes.”