Large apartment complex fire smothered by multiple departments

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published March 2, 2016

Shutterstock image


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A recent apartment fire in Clinton Township took plenty of manpower to be extinguished.

The incident occurred around 8:40 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Clairridge Estates, located on Harper Avenue near Metropolitan Parkway.

Deputy Fire Chief Geof Fecteau said flames were blowing out of a third-story window. Fire officials deemed it a “working fire” when the first engine arrived.

“The smoke detector activated and somebody heard a loud pop,” Fecteau said. “When I got on the scene (firefighters) had the room knocked down. The fire was into the attic, then it started blowing out of the roof.”

Fecteau said firefighters had to go inside the building, to the third floor where the fire was at its highest point. They had to pull drywall in every single room in order to properly douse the flames.

“If you spray water from the outside onto the roof, it will just bounce off the shingles,” he said. “It’s not like how they do it in the movies.”

He said the initial fire is thought to have started in a single apartment. When the female occupant ran out to escape, she left the door open. Flames trailed into the hallway and eventually to other portions of the building.

The department called a second alarm so the building wouldn’t be lost.

Somewhere in the range of 12 to 16 apartments were damaged after the fire spread to the hallway and other floors.

Firefighters from Fraser, Mount Clemens, St. Clair Shores and Roseville were called because the fire was so big. Firefighters from Sterling Heights, Macomb Township and Harrison Township filled in at different Clinton Township stations and even took some runs that night.

On Feb. 22, the cause was still under investigation. Various insurance companies were initially on hand to deal with residents who are now homeless.

The only injury reported was of a woman who reportedly tripped and injured her hand.

“It was amazing, for that time of the day,” Fecteau said. “The smoke detectors worked the way they were supposed to. (All the residents) getting out, us saving the building like we were supposed to.

“I was really impressed with the job the men did. Everyone did a fantastic job.”

As of press time, the occupants remained without a place to stay. As part of a program sponsored by Meijer and the Clinton Township Fire Department, residents could receive $200 Meijer gift cards that can be used to purchase amenities like food and toiletries. The displaced residents were also given a free one-night stay at a local hotel, and contact information for the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.

About nine or 10 vouchers were estimated to be handed out to residents.

At press time, the building was not available for entry, with a padlock blocking anyone from trying to access the third floor.

“We had to cut the power, cut the gas,” Fecteau said. “There was no way anyone could in go there. (There was) just too much damage from water and smoke. … Some of the stuff they could salvage, definitely. Where the fire (reached), things were lost.”