SHELBY TOWNSHIP (WWJ) – A neighbor’s fireworks may be to blame for an early morning house fire in Shelby Township, according to authorities.

Shelby Township’s fire chief says they got the call at around 5 a.m. Tuesday about the fire that started on the deck of a home, on Mallard Court near 21 Mile and Hayes — hours after fireworks were shot off down the street late Monday night.

“They immediately called us…our first arriving engine got there a few minutes later, and the fire had already consumed a good portion of the deck and worked its way up the side of the house, into the second story and into the roof,” Swinkowski told WWJ’s Jon Hewett.

Swinkowski said the homeowners had not recently been grilling, no one had been smoking, and there was nothing out on the deck prior to the fire that could point to a cause.

Although fireworks are being looked at as a possibility, Swinkowski was quick to add that an exact cause has yet to be determined, but that he wanted to put the word out as a warning to others heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

“It has happened, in years past, we’ve had problems where these fireworks do not do what they’re supposed to do. They come down, they shoot sideways, and it’s possible that hot embers or whatever it was landed in the yard and in the gazebo and started smoldering until it got hot enough to start a fire,” Swinkowski said. “And the timeline does fit.”

No injuries were reported, but about half the house was left a ruin. Houses in the neighborhood are valued at $334,857, according to Zillow.

Swinkowski said investigators will also be looking into other possible causes, including electrical in the hot tub.

Arson, he said, has been ruled out.

In comments under a Shelby-TV video of the aftermath, posted to the fire department’s Facebook page, Laurie Harper Claeys wrote: “Wow! I’m not a fan of casual fireworks, and this strengthens my argument. So sorry for the family.”

Paul Kroll added, “Though sad, things like this are easily avoided. Be smart and remember fireworks though fun can be dangerous if misused.”

Swinkowski himself is not a fan of consumer fireworks.

“Dealing with these types of fireworks, there’s nothing called, you know, doing it safely. And we have had house fires and other types of structure fires in years past since this ridiculous piece of legislation got passed several years ago,” Swinkowski said.

“Back then, it was all about the money. Lansing, all of the legislators in Lansing, wanted the tax revenue from the sale of fireworks without any forethought as to the enforcement of it.”

Swinkowski said he believes many Michiganders are unaware of fireworks regulations in their community.

“Most people — especially in Shelby Township and the northern half of Macomb County — you basically cannot light off fireworks that leave the ground legally because of the clearances between your property line, your house and your neighbor’s line,” the chief said. “You cannot do it in the front, you cannot do it past the sidewalk, you cannot do it in the street — and yet they do it.”

[Read up on the law, HERE].


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