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Royal Oak

Shift change allows firefighters to double up on house fire

January 22, 2013

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A fire in the rear of a house in the 700 block of Midland spread to the attic and took two crews of Royal Oak firefighters more than an hour to extinguish Jan. 22.

A handful of residents woke up to smoke billowing from their neighbor’s house on the morning of Jan. 22.

Firefighters were called to the 700 block of Midland, northeast of 13 Mile and Rochester roads, just before 8 a.m. and spent more than an hour putting out a fire that had started at the back of a residence.

“The fire came in before 8 o’clock in the morning and it was zero degrees out at the time,” Fire Chief Chuck Thomas said. “The good thing for us is that it was shift change, so we had a lot of people on duty. We had a good amount of manpower.”

Thomas said, due to the shift change, about 15 firefighters were on hand to rotate and keep fighting the fire constantly while others paused to warm up.

He said Royal Oak police, the Department of Public Works and a few local neighbors all helped the process. The DPW kept ice from forming while police held passers-by at bay. Thomas said two neighbors brought the firefighters coffee during the operation.

“We’re grateful for the police and DPW and citizens who brought the guys coffee,” Thomas said.

No people were home at the time of the fire, but a woman who lived there said a dog and cat should have been in the house. As of 1:30 p.m., Thomas said the two pets have not been seen and could have either hidden or escaped.

Thomas said the fire took more than an hour to put out because it got between the ceiling panels in the back of the house and the attic floor, so it kept burning whenever firefighters got close to extinguishing it.

“The fire was stubborn and got into the attic,” Thomas said.

The Madison Heights Fire Department also assisted by manning the Royal Oak station while all the Royal Oak firefighters were battling the blaze. They were relieved when off-duty Royal Oak firefighters were called in to man the station.

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