Detroit apartment fire displaces several families

Detroit apartment fire displaces several families

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

Several families have been displaced after an apartment fire near Fullerton and Lawton on Detroit's west side.

Fire crews say a vacant house next door caught fire around midnight Tuesday night and spread to the apartment building.

"My backyard was lit up whole 'nother color than it usually be. Where was the fire? That's all I wanted to know," Shanieta Brocks remembers.

Barbara Norris lives in the basement and says usually the downstairs door gets stuck, but luckily this time it wasn't.

Norris and dozens of families waited on a bus to fend off the below-freezing temperatures and, because of low water pressure, it took more than two hours for firefighters to put out the fire. Salvation Army and Red Cross also came and assisted the residents while they waited and watch their building burn.

"Whatever they needed, you know, to try and keep them comfortable while they're waiting to figure out what's going to happen with them tonight," says Chuck McDougall from Salvation Army.

Investigators are calling the fire suspicious, but not yet calling it arson. They are investigating if a squatter or homeless person possibly set the fire at the vacant home and it spread, or if someone with a vendetta purposely set it.

Sources say a police report was filed two weeks ago in which someone accused the landlords of holding fraudulent deeds and titles, and then threatened to burn the apartment building to the ground. Investigators aren't ruling out the possibility of a connection in these two situations, but are still questioning why, then, would the fire have started next door.

"They say they are going to tear the whole building down due to roof damage and the side of building damage. They don't think it'd be a good idea if we stay here," Brocks says.

She agrees but, like so many others right now, has nowhere else to go and will be forced to stay and live in that broken, burned down building until her family finds another place to live.

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