Fire breaks out at Hazel Park townhouses

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 21, 2021

 The fire that broke out  Oct. 11 at the Robertson Brothers townhouse development took several hours for Hazel Park firefighters and mutual aid partners to fully extinguish.

The fire that broke out Oct. 11 at the Robertson Brothers townhouse development took several hours for Hazel Park firefighters and mutual aid partners to fully extinguish.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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HAZEL PARK — Authorities in Hazel Park are investigating a townhouse fire, the cause of which has been described as “suspicious.”

On the night of Oct. 11, around 10 p.m., the fire broke out at the new Robertson Brothers development on Woodward Heights Boulevard. There are a row of townhouses at the site, east of John R Road. Three of them are complete and occupied, while the fourth is still under development, with intact frame and walls, but no running electricity or gas. The finished buildings suffered damage to their trim and vinyl siding, while damage at the unoccupied building was far more substantial.

Each of the townhouses has six units and is three stories tall, with a garage and living room on the first floor, additional living space on the second floor, and bedrooms on the third floor.  

Hazel Park Fire Chief Richard Story did not specify the point of origin for the fire, but said that the circumstances were suspicious and under investigation. He said that the absence of drywall in the unfinished building allowed fire to travel quickly throughout the structure, fueled further by the wind, which pushed the fire out of the unoccupied building toward the occupied ones.

A team of Hazel Park firefighters were first on the scene, greeted by flames reaching 40 feet above the roofline. They were joined shortly thereafter by two firefighters from Ferndale, two from Royal Oak, and four from Madison Heights.

“Our mutual aid departments were on scene within 10 minutes,” Story said via email. “We used a defensive attack with large hose streams. We ended up using three fire hydrants and a lot of water to knock the fire down. Then we took smaller hand-lines into the building, with several crews, and put out any spot fires or pockets we couldn’t hit from outside. We took precautions on where we went, because the building was compromised structurally at this point. From the initial water going in to mopping up was about 30 minutes, and then it took three hours to completely extinguish.”

The heat from the fire also melted the vinyl siding of nearby condos in the same complex, but nobody was injured.

Story said his department has responded to several fires in recent months.

“We had a linen business burn down due to electrical issues. We had a fire at a recycling building caused by loading car batteries improperly, causing them to arc and burn. And we had a residential fire that originated on a porch and burnt the house significantly — that was an arson fire,” Story said.

“I am very proud of my department,” he added. “We used good tactics and kept cool during this emergency, which greatly helped the fire go out. Also, our mutual aid partners — without them and their quick and professional response, we would have really taxed our department, and the fire would have been much harder to extinguish. All four cities have top-notch fire departments. I can’t say thank you enough for their help.”

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