Residents displaced after condo fire in Rochester

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 19, 2018

Firefighters from five local departments battled a fire at a 16-unit condominium complex in the 400 block of Romeo Road over the weekend. 

The blaze started sometime before 8:27 p.m. Feb. 16, when a resident in the three-building complex reported seeing smoke and flames in the kitchen window of another unit.  

Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said the fire erupted in a unit on the first floor of one of the structures, which includes four condo units with one common hallway open from the first to the second floor. 

“When I got on the scene there was fire coming out of the windows on the west side of the building with a lot of heavy smoke,” Cieslik said. “The police had already done a great job of getting everybody evacuated and accounted for, but by that time the smoke was already down to the floor level on the first floor.”

With all residents safely out of the buildings, Cieslik said, firefighters started an interior attack and were able to extinguish the fire by approximately 9:41 p.m. 

“Because of the size of the fire it was a tough fire for us to fight,” he explained. “The glass windows on the east side of the building broke out from the heat of the fire, and the fire then was able to go up the side of the building and start to get into the attic area, so we requested additional equipment, because I wanted to make sure that if the fire continued to grow, we had enough equipment and firefighters on the scene to cut it off before it spread to the two adjacent buildings,” he said.

The Rochester firefighters, with assistance from crews from the Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Troy and Auburn Hills fire departments, were able to confine the fire to two units on the west side of the affected building. 

 “The units on the first floor and second floor, where the fire started, were damaged heavily by the fire. But the firefighters were able to keep the fire from crossing the hallway and getting into the other two units. Those two units had some smoke damage and water damage,” Cieslik said. “They were also able to keep it from spreading into the two adjacent buildings.”

Representatives from the Addison Township Fire Department also assisted by covering the Rochester Fire Station in the event of other emergencies.  

“The teamwork between the local fire departments was just excellent,” Cieslik added.

One firefighter suffered an injury fighting the blaze, slipping on a patch of ice and spraining his knee, and was taken by ambulance to Ascension Crittenton Hospital. The firefighter was later released. First responders assisted a senior citizen who suffered a medical condition unrelated to the blaze.

Cieslik said the cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, but he noted that the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office has conducted an investigation. 

“Although we don’t have it pinpointed yet, it appears to be electrical in nature,” Cieslik said. 

He said no smoke detectors activated to alert residents of the fire.

“That is something that we will be following up on. That is always something big that we like to push. To make sure that people are keeping track of their smoke alarms,” he said.

The Rochester Fire Department sees under 10 fires a year, according to Cieslik, who said the teamwork between the different departments helped this fire from spreading.

“It was a large fire, and it could have gotten a lot worse, but it was the activities of the firefighters working together that kept it to the original building,” he said.

The Rochester Police Department is collecting supplies for the affected families. Donations can be dropped off at the lobby of the Rochester Police Department, 400 6th St. For more information, call the Rochester Police Department at (248) 651-9621.