Firefighters put out apartment building fire in Midtown

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — Flames engulfed a first-floor unit in an Midtown apartment building Friday morning but no one was injured.

Firefighters were called around 7 a.m. to the Selden Manor on the 600 block of Selden Street, near Third Street, officials said.

The flames were quickly brought under control, Chief John King said.

“The (firefighters) did an excellent job,” he said. “Because of the age of the structure, it wouldn't have taken long for the fire to consume the building.”

King said he believes the building was built around the 1930s.

Firefighters went door-to-door evacuating residents during the fire, at times forced to break down doors when there was no answer, King said.

“We got to hit all the doors because we don't know who might have been overcome by smoke,” he said.

Many residents escaped via ladders while others climbed out windows, King said.

Resident Vandarlyn Fish, 58, said she used a rope dangling from the window of her upstairs neighbor's apartment to get out of her first-floor unit, directly across the hall from the source of the fire.

“I opened up my door and I could see across the hall, flames of fire, so I shut the door,” Fish said. “The smoke was so intense, there was no way I could get out.”

Unable to make it through her front door, Fish turned to her window, she said.

“I snatched my air conditioner out of the window and climbed out with a rope,” she said. “The man upstairs was coming down on a rope, and I came down on the same rope. He helped me get down into the alley.”

King said there appears to be fire damage to the unit where flames ignited, plus water and smoke damage to nearby apartments. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“There's some rumors and innuendo,” King said. "We have arson investigators on the scene and we'll know for sure soon.”

The apartment manager told officials there were working fire alarms in the building. But King said he had not heard residents mention hearing an alarm.

“Right now, I cannot confirm anything,” he said. “I have not heard any residents say they heard anything.”

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