Man, 53, dies in downtown apartment fire

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

A fire that claimed the life of a 53-year-old man Thursday morning at a downtown Detroit apartment building may have been caused by the man smoking in bed, fire authorities said.

The Detroit Fire Department responded to the Leland apartment building, 400 Bagley, just after 2 a.m., said Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner. On arrival, there was smoke billowing out of the building's windows.

The fire started in one room, on the 10th floor. Firefighters evacuated the floor as well as the floors above and below the 10th.

Firefighters entered the building and in about 90 minutes, knocked down the fire. They found the victim in a closet. Sometimes, house fire victims will retreat to the closet in hopes of escaping the fire and smoke. 

The victim suffered burns and smoke inhalation, Fornell said. Medics transported the victim to Detroit Receiving Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Arson investigators will work to determine the cause of the fire, but the early belief is that the victim was smoking in bed at the time of the blaze.

No other residents were hurt, and no firefighters were hurt. 

The Wayne County Medical Examiner will determine his official cause of death.