DETROIT (WWJ) – Investigators say a house fire that claimed the life of a 7-month-old boy was likely caused by a space heater on an illegal electrical hook-up.

The fire broke out on State Fair Street near Schoenherr Tuesday afternoon.

Investigators say there were five children under the age of three, an adult and a teenager in the house at the time of the fire. Everyone was able to be pulled from the house, but the victim’s body — identified by the family as Coby Johnson — was discovered upstairs.

Tomika Seals, the sister of the victim’s mother, said the family can’t believe what has happened.

“You know, nothing was plugged up, nothing was lit, nothing was on. All she knows is she was cleaning and that was that,” said Seals.

Seals said her sister had only lived in the house for two months.

“She’s devastated, I mean, you don’t expect one minute you’re with the baby and the next minute this happens … she’s hurting right now,” she said. “I don’t know why … that’s my sister’s home and her children were in there and there were five kids and one didn’t make it.”

While investigators say the fire was accidental, a space heater is being seen as the likely cause. Power had been cut off to the house back in April, with an illegal electrical hook-up in use.

Police say while the fire appears to have been accidental, no one should have been living in the house.


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