Reporting Ron Dewey
MELVINDALE (WWJ) - Fire officials say a Downriver man was trapped inside his home during a fire early Tuesday morning.
Firefighters responded to a home in the 1700 block of Hanna Street, near I-94 and Oakwood Boulevard in Melvindale, around 4:30 a.m. and found flames shooting into the sky.
Fire Chief Steven Densmore said the flames were so intense, firefighters couldn’t make their way through the front door. When the crews tried to go through the back entrance, Densmore said they found that it had been barricaded – welded shut. By this time, the fire had gone through the roof.
Neighbors on the scene told firefighters that a handicapped man in his 50s who lived in the home was unaccounted for, but firefighters couldn’t go back into the house.
“Our intense search, we were unable to because of the extreme fire and heat. We, again, pulled our crews back out to a defensive mode and when the fire was out, we did find a gentleman in the house, in the rear of the bedroom,” said Densmore.
Firefighters made the discovery neighbors were fearing — the homeowner had died in the fire. The victim’s wasn’t immediately released by the fire department.
Officials say there were several explosions in the house, believed to be oxygen tanks kept as part of the victim’s health conditions.
Diane Selders, who lives across the street, was despondent over the loss of her long-time neighbor.
“I was in just in a dead sleep and I heard a boom. This was an explosion. I come running out my door – it’s my best friend of 35 years, I just seen him last night at 9:30 – and I ran over there and was throwing rocks at the window, trying to yell for his name, and trying to bust some windows to get some of that heat out of there. We tried to go in there and it was just too hot, it was just too hot, and the smoke,” Selders said through tears.
An official cause of the fire has not yet been determined. An investigation is ongoing.
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