On Monday September 10, 2018 at 10:50 p.m. the Sterling Heights Fire Department was called for structure fire in the 43000 block of Hartwick.
When firefighters arrived, they were confronted with a well-advanced fire that had spread from the attached garage into the attic of the two-story home.
The residents were asleep and were not aware of the fire until a father and son, who lived in the area, noticed the fire from 19 Mile Road. They went to the house and banged on the doors, waking the residents, which allowed them to escape. The actions of these two fellow residents likely saved the lives of the homeowners as the fire could have quickly cut off their way to escape. Luckily, the residents were safely out of the house when the crews from Fire Station 2, right down the street, arrived one minute and 10 seconds after getting the call.
Crews from Fire Stations 1, 2, 4 and 5 responded to the scene and were able to bring the fire under control in about 20 minutes. This was after the house had sustained significant damage due to the fire burning unreported for a significant amount of time. The Fire Marshal has determined that the fire started in the garage, but the exact cause has yet to be determined. There is no reason to believe the fire was intentionally sent.
The house had functioning smoke detectors, but the detectors did not alert the residents because the smoke had not entered the living area of the home before fully consuming the garage and extending to the attic above where the occupants slept. While the building code does not require smoke detectors in attached garages, the Sterling Heights Fire Department strongly suggests that residents look at modern options for having fire detection in attached garages, like heat alarms. Attached garages are common locations for fires to start and this is a perfect example of how quickly fires can spread before detectors inside the home alert the occupants. Having an early warning to a fire in an attached garage can save lives and reduce loss to the home by getting the fire department to the scene sooner.
According to the United Stated Fire Administration, “Heat alarms (detectors) respond to fire, not smoke. They are another useful part of any home fire safety plan”. Furthermore “Many heat alarm models can be connected to a home’s fire detection system so that if the heat alarm sounds, the smoke alarms will as well”. Learn more at www.usfa.fema.gov.
According to Fire Chief Chris Martin, “The two fellow residents should be praised for their actions; had they not jumped into action, the result could have been much different”. The Sterling Heights Fire Department plans to recognize these residents at the upcoming Fire Department Open House on October 7.
For more information, please contact Fire Chief Chris Martin at 586-446-2951 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.