This home on Roslyn Road in Grosse Pointe Shores was destroyed during an early morning fire Nov. 16.

This home on Roslyn Road in Grosse Pointe Shores was destroyed during an early morning fire Nov. 16.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Multiple crews battle 2 house fires Nov. 16 in Grosse Pointe Shores

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 19, 2019

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Public safety officials found themselves fighting not one, but two house fires Saturday morning in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Around 6:02 a.m. Nov. 16, Shores Public Safety Director John Schulte said, officers were dispatched to Roslyn Road on a working fire. The first officer on the scene saw heavy smoke billowing from the front door, which resulted in a second alarm being called immediately to bring in more equipment and personnel.

The residents and family dog got out of the home safely, but the scope of the fire necessitated calling a third alarm to bring in still more personnel, equipment and water supply lines to the scene, with officers from Grosse Pointe City, Farms and Woods ultimately responding.

The Roslyn residents had a “very sophisticated” smoke alarm system in their home, and Schulte said that “without question” the system alerted them to the fire and saved their lives, because they were able to get outside safely.

“I can’t stress enough how important smoke alarms are,” Schulte said. “It’s the best protection you can have for getting out quickly.”

While the cause of the fire remained under investigation at press time, Schulte said they believe it started in the firebox on the first floor “and likely fire breached through the chimney liner into the home, which spread laterally on the second floor and upwards into the attic.” It may have been burning and building for hours in the chimney before it became visible to the residents.

Schulte said chimneys — even in homes with gas fireplaces — need to be cleaned and inspected annually.

“It’s critically important that they’re cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep,” he said. “Good chimney caps are needed as well.”

That’s because, Schulte said, birds or rodents sometimes get inside chimneys and build nests with highly flammable material, like twigs and straw. Keeping animals outside the chimney is one way to reduce the risk of fire.

Schulte said the Roslyn home is considered structurally unsafe and residents shouldn’t walk near it. At press time, the property was roped off with yellow police tape.

While officers were still battling the Roslyn blaze, they received another 911 call, this time around 10 a.m. Nov. 16, about a fire on Greenbriar Lane. A Shores command officer went to that dwelling to assess conditions there and discovered heavy smoke pouring out the front door. Schulte said public safety officers and firefighters from Grosse Pointe Park, Harper Woods, Detroit and St. Clair Shores all responded to the Greenbriar fire, which was “extinguished quickly.”

“Even with a late response, they (had an) excellent response,” Schulte said. “They saved that house.”

He estimated that 75% of the fire apparatus and personnel in the area were working on one of these two fires.

“No resident and no firefighter was injured,” Schulte said. “We were very lucky.”

Unlike the Roslyn home — which is believed to be a total loss — Schulte said the Greenbriar home can probably be repaired, although it, too, experienced quite a bit of damage. A humidifier in the basement might have led to the Greenbriar fire, according to the department.

Schulte thanked and praised all of the communities that sent mutual aid to the fire scenes.

“As the smallest of the Grosse Pointes, we are extremely grateful,” he said. “When the bell rang, they didn’t hesitate — they answered the call. With their assistance, the fires are out, no one was hurt, and we recovered some items from the Roslyn house.”