Suspect arrested after Detroit apartment fire kills 5

DETROIT, MICH. - A 55-year-old man suspected of starting an apartment fire that killed five and injured four Wednesday on Detroit's east side has been arrested, authorities said.

The fire, reported at about 1:30 p.m. on the 10500 block of Whittier, ripped through the building as high winds fanned the flames.

Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell said investigators think the arson fire started on the second floor in the rear of the building.

Authorities arrested the man, who has not been identified, Tuesday.

"We believe he may have had an argument with the landlord," Fornell said.

Detroit Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Moreno said a warrant request has not been turned over to the prosecutor's office, but that should be done in the next 24-36 hours. The man arrested lived in the complex.

Moreno said officials are investigating the possibility the fire stemmed from an argument between the suspect and another person, but she said she wasn't sure of the identity of the other person.

►Related: 'Person of interest' questioned in Detroit fire that killed 5

The bodies of four people were found on the second floor on the two-story, orange brick apartment building.

The fifth victim, a 61-year-old man, was pulled from the burning building by firefighters who worked to revive him. He was taken to a hospital where he died, Fornell said.

Autopsies were performed today at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office on the five people who died, said Jim Martinez, a spokesman for the county.

"Due to the conditions of the bodies, no identifications could be made," he said in an email.

Officials are still working to positively identify the victims.

Four other people were taken to a hospital for treatment.  A 67-year-old man being treated for second-degree burns and smoke inhalation is in critical condition. A 56-year-old man who suffered cuts to his hand is in serious condition. A 70-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman were treated for smoke inhalation and released.

Wind gusts topped more than 60 m.p.h. in the area Wednesday.  The weather hampered firefighters and contributed to one of the busiest days they've had in years, Fornell said.

The city's dispatch lines were flooded with calls as the winds tore down power lines and damaged property. Neighbors trying to report the apartment fire couldn't get through, so one neighbor jumped in her car and drove to a nearby fire station to alert firefighters.

►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.

Free Press staff writer Elisha Anderson contributed to this report. 

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
TRENDING VIDEOS