GROSSE ILE (WWJ) – Authorities have recovered the body of a 86-year-old woman following a condo fire in Grosse Ile that forced the evacuation of the complex and an elementary school to shut down.
Police say Helen Brick was killed Thursday morning in a fire that quickly spread through her home at the Hawthorne Condominium Complex on Hawthorne Glen Drive, near the Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club on the south end of the island. Investigators say Brick had recently broken her hip and couldn’t escape. Her body was found in a living room chair.
Fire Chief Duncan Murdock told WWJ’s Ron Dewey an evacuation of the complex was ordered shortly after the fire took off around 4:30 a.m.
“The two and three units to the north were evacuated, because we had a west-southwest wind blowing smoke into those units and we have elderly residents so we moved them out of there,” he said. “I also closed down Meridian Elementary School because of the amount of smoke filling up that school. I didn’t want the children in there today.”
WWJ’s Lance Howard, who was over the scene in Chopper 950, said at least two condominiums are a complete loss. Once the fire was extinguished and firefighters could comb through the wreckage, Murdock said they discovered Brick’s body.
Firefighters from Trenton were called in to help battle the blaze. Murdock said the winter weather hampered their efforts, but didn’t stop them from getting the upper hand.
“With the ice and the amount of snow we have, maneuvering and manipulating around a house with all these snow piles and stuff is very, very difficult. It also becomes very slippery with the amount of water that is put on the fire. It doesn’t slow us down, it just makes it tougher for us and we have to work a little harder,” he said.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire, which remains under investigation.