Fire Department fights three blazes in four days

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 5, 2016

 Flames jut out the roof of a home on Pacton Drive, near 21 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, Feb. 3.

Flames jut out the roof of a home on Pacton Drive, near 21 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, Feb. 3.

Photo provided by the Shelby Township Police Department


It was a busy week for fire crews in Shelby Township.

Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski praised members of the Shelby Township Fire Department for quick thinking and actions to extinguish fires at two houses and an apartment on Feb. 2, 3 and 5.

During the afternoon Feb. 2, Swinkowski said, fire crews responded to a house fire at a residence on Province Court, near 21 Mile and Schoenherr roads.

“A person in the house — a family member or something — was doing some plumbing work and mistakenly drilled into his natural-gas line in the basement, not the water line, which obviously sparked a fire,” Swinkowski said.

He said nobody was injured in the blaze and that fire crews responded immediately. They were able to contain the blaze to the area of origin and limit the damage to the rest of the basement.

“Obviously, there was a lot of fire and smoke damage, but (the fire) was contained and the house is occupiable and livable,” Swinkowski said. “There’s some repair work that’ll have to be done to the flooring of the first floor and to clean up the smoke and water.”

At approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Fire Department responded to a house fire at a residence on Pacton Drive, near 21 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue.

“It appears to be electrical in nature. It started in the kitchen and quickly spread to the attic,” Swinkowski said. “We’re still working on the exact cause.”

He said a homeowner was present at the time of the fire and noticed black smoke coming out from behind an outlet in the wall above the kitchen counter. He said the family was able to get out of the house, and no one was injured in the blaze.

“Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the attic and kitchen area. They kept it from spreading to the living area and protected the family’s belongings,” he said.

Because of extensive smoke and water damage, he said the house was not livable.

Swinkowski said it was an older house that had been sold several times over the years. He recommended that homeowners always use certified electricians or plumbers for repairs as an added safety measure to make sure that all repairs are up to code.

At approximately 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5, Swinkowski said, fire crews responded to a unit at Ponderosa Apartments, located near 23 Mile and Mound Roads. He said the fire originated as a result of cooking in the kitchen.

“There was minor damage to the stove and the cabinets right above the stovetop, as well as some minor damage to the apartment, but everything is back to normal,” he said.

Swinkowski recommended never leaving anything on top of the stove unattended and to never throw water on a fire when cooking with greasy foods, such as bacon.

“Always put a metal lid on top of it to smother the fire out. Water will just make it worse,” he said. “Don’t try and carry it outside or dump it down the drain.”

He recommended always having a fire extinguisher in the residence. He said people can purchase smaller canisters designed to fit inside kitchen cabinets.

“The Fire Department did a great job with all three of these incidents and were able to limit a lot of the potential hazard and danger and damage the families could have experienced had it gone a little worse,” Swinkowski said. “No one got hurt, and some lessons were learned.”