‘Suspicious’ house fire kills 2 on east side

James David Dickson, The Detroit News

Two people were killed in a house fire on Detroit’s east side that authorities are calling “suspicious.”

The Detroit Fire Department received a call of a fire at about 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, said deputy fire commissioner Dave Fornell, a department spokesman. The fire affected what authorities believe to be a group home, with seven tenants, on the 600 block of Lakewood, south of East Jefferson and east of Alter.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire on the first and second floors of the building and “fire coming out of every window,” Fornell said.

They also found a 66-year-old woman lying in the front yard, who’d escaped the blaze. She was transported to St. John Hospital as a precaution.

Within six minutes, firefighters were able to enter the home and do a search. At that point, they found the two victims: a 59-year-old man, and a 60-year-old woman. One was found in a hallway, the other in a bedroom, Fornell said, though which one was found where was not immediately known.

Arson investigators remained on the property until about 5:30 a.m.

“They’re in the throes of that investigation,” Fornell said, interviewing witnesses and trying to locate cameras in the area. In the early hours, Fornell said, the belief is that this was a house fire, not a fire set to mask a homicide.

“When they mask a homicide, (the fire) doesn’t usually get this big,” Fornell said.