Clawson firefighters working in extremely cold temperatures extinguished a fire during the early morning hours Jan. 30 at this home on 14 Mile Road, west of Rochester Road.

Clawson firefighters working in extremely cold temperatures extinguished a fire during the early morning hours Jan. 30 at this home on 14 Mile Road, west of Rochester Road.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik


Firefighters extinguish blaze in unoccupied Clawson home

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 31, 2019

CLAWSON — At approximately 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, a Clawson police officer on patrol noticed smoke coming from a home on 14 Mile Road, west of Rochester Road, across the street from Guardian Angels Catholic Church.

Clawson Fire Chief Troy Engel said that approximately 75 percent of the all-volunteer department, or approximately 18 firefighters, showed up to fight the blaze, and the endeavor was a team effort that included the police, Department of Public Works and energy companies.

Engel said that nobody was home at the time and the owners had moved out three or four days before.

The fire appears to have started in the kitchen and worked its way upstairs, and the Oakland County fire investigation unit is investigating the cause of the blaze, he said

When firefighters arrived, Engel said, flames were spilling out of a rear upstairs window and crews got to work checking the structure and extinguishing the blaze. He said police helped to close the road so firefighters could tap the fire hydrant across the street.

The cold was a hindrance in corralling the fire, as well as the design of the bungalow.

“It was a pretty intense fire because of the design of the upstairs attic area,” he said. “It was difficult to gain access to extinguish it.”

He said that because no one immediately reported the fire, it had consumed most of the ceiling. Dropping debris spread the fire.

“We had the fire under control within about an hour or so, which is a long time,” Engel said. “We usually get it under control in about 15 minutes, but because it was so cold and because the fire was in the roof, the guys had to work harder for a couple of hours getting hot spots.”

Hot spots, he said, are areas under the asphalt shingles where the fire flares up in eaves and soffits, which are difficult to extinguish because shingles shed water.

The company that boarded up the home called firefighters back at approximately 6:30 a.m. because they missed a 6- by 6-inch blaze on a soffit in a corner of the northwest side of the home, Engel said.

“We had air pack regulators freezing up, hoses freeze, nozzles freeze. All the snow and stuff after the runoff caused extremely slippery conditions,” he said. “DPW was out to salt the road, but because it was so cold, salt doesn’t work well.”

He added that the drain on the road was frozen over with salt and ice, so DPW crews had to work hard to clear it.

He added that DTE Energy and Consumers Energy also responded promptly to turn off the gas utilities.

“There is a for-sale sign in front of the house, but now it’s going to need a new roof and a new kitchen,” Engel said.