7 hurt in house fire on Detroit’s east side

Holly Fournier, and James David Dickson

Detroit — Seven family members, including three children, were injured in a house fire Tuesday on the city’s east side.

Officials were called around 3 a.m. to a home on the 8800 block of Bessemore Street near Harper Avenue and Van Dyke, Detroit police Officer Dan Donakowski said. Four adults and three young children were trapped inside.

“The child who was most injured was burned and firefighters were doing CPR when they got him out,” fire investigations Capt. Pat McNulty said of the child, who was found in an upstairs bedroom. “When they got him out, they had a heartbeat again.”

Police earlier reported the 1-year-old child had died but McNulty said that wasn’t the case.

The boy’s cousin, 18-year-old Montece Wilkerson, said the child remained on life support Tuesday night at Children’s Hospital.

Three adults suffered broken bones after they jumped from the burning building, McNulty said. They are expected to recover.

Two other children, 3- and 4-year-old girls, were in stable condition, Donakowski said.

Wilkerson said his mother was admitted to the hospital because of her asthma.

He said the Red Cross has reached out to the family to assist them with temporary housing.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but not considered suspicious, McNulty said.

“There was lot of electrical work that was not to code,” he said. “And some space heaters.”

A DTE Energy Co. official was on scene Tuesday morning as officials investigated whether the home’s power supply contributed to the fire.

Wilkerson earlier Tuesday said he lives at the home with his family but was staying around the block when the fire ignited.

His mother, father, sisters and baby cousin called “K.J.” were among those injured.

“When I woke up, I had 100 missed calls from 100 people,” he said. “When I heard, I ran over here with no coat on.”

The young man’s friend, 16-year-old Danny Smith, was among those trying to reach Wilkerson early Tuesday.

Smith’s girlfriend was inside the home and is hospitalized with arm lacerations and an ankle injury, he said.

“She was the first person to jump,” Smith said of his 17-year-old girlfriend. “She told me she broke her window and jumped.”

K.J., meanwhile, suffered severe burns to his feet, Smith said.

A malfunctioning space heater may have started the flames, he said.

“A space heater was on, and I guess a wire popped,” Smith said.

Smith said he lives around the corner and woke up early Tuesday as the house was engulfed in flames.

“I kept smelling smoke,” Smith said. “My sister woke me up.”

Smith said he rushed to the scene in time to witness the injured family fleeing the inferno.


Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.