Sterling woman, 93, dies from house fire

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published April 2, 2019

An early morning fire attributed to a cooking accident claimed the life of a 93-year-old Sterling Heights woman and two cats April 2, according to the Sterling Heights Fire Department.

At around 4:30 a.m. that morning, firefighters reportedly were alerted to a house fire in the 42000 block of Hanks Lane, which is located by 18 ½ Mile and Mound roads.

According to Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin, Station 5’s firefighters were involved in putting out the fire at the ranch home.

“When they got there, it was heavily involved,” Martin said. “One of the neighbors had told them there was an elderly woman that lives there.”

Martin said rescuers at the scene searched for the woman and found her about 15 feet away from the front door. He said that, in his professional opinion, “she probably woke up to the fire and tried to escape and was overcome by the smoke.”

He said rescuers did CPR on the woman, and they were able to get a pulse. They arranged for the woman’s transport to William Beaumont Hospital, Troy, Martin said, but life support was later removed at the hospital.

The Fire Department identified the victim as Marcella Nowak of Sterling Heights. Martin said neighbors described Nowak as a decades-long resident of that home. Two cats also were killed during the fire, authorities added.

According to the Fire Department, investigators suspect that a cooking endeavor was left unattended, and that caused the fire. Martin said the home ended up “heavily damaged,” and the department’s thoughts are with the victim’s family over her tragic death.

The Fire Department is still investigating whether functioning smoke detectors were present at the home, Martin added.

Anyone who has more information about this incident should contact the Sterling Heights Fire Department by calling (586) 446-2950.