Nighttime fire causes death, injuries at Sterling apartments
By Eric Czarnik
Posted May 18, 2017
Sterling Heights police officers and firefighters are investigating why flames damaged two Sterling Heights apartment buildings the night of May 17, leading to one death and three injuries.
According to police, the blaze began around 11:11 p.m. May 17 at the Sterling Knolls apartments, located in the 11000 block of 15 Mile Road.
Police said a woman was found in an apartment building’s second floor. According to Fire Chief Chris Martin, the deceased victim was identified as Laura Ann Phillips, 33, from Sterling Heights.
Martin said firefighters from all five Sterling Heights fire stations — as well as fire crews from Warren, Clinton Township and Shelby Township —arrived at the scene in order to put out the fire. Firefighters from Fraser, Utica and Macomb Township filled Sterling Heights’ fire stations to cover other runs, Martin said.
Martin said the fire started in one apartment building and quickly spread to a building next to it. Overall, 16 units suffered damage as a result, he said.
“We had (the fire) under control in a little over an hour, and we were there until 4 in the morning,” he added.
Martin explained what happened to three people who were treated for injuries.
“One of the people that we rescued out of the apartment was taken to Troy Beaumont for smoke inhalation and anxiety. She was treated and released,” he said. “Two firefighters, one from Sterling Heights and one from Clinton Township, were treated and released for heat-related injuries.”
The fire chief said an investigation is underway to determine whether the fire was accidentally or deliberately caused, as well as to determine whether smoke detectors or fire alarms were functioning.
Sixteen families were displaced by the fire. The Sterling Heights Fire Department is working with the Red Cross, Sterling Knolls management and local churches to aid the displaced families, according to a city press release.
The fire marshal has placed preliminary loss estimates at $1.5 million, according to the city.
Anyone who has more information about this incident is encouraged to call the Sterling Heights Fire Department at (586) 446-2950.
About the author
Staff Writer Eric Czarnik reports on Sterling Heights and Utica Community Schools, and he writes a weekly auto column. He is a Wayne State University graduate who has been employed at C & G Newspapers since 2007.
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