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8 hospitalized in Detroit apartment fire; others wait on balconies for help

The Detroit News

Like she does every Sunday afternoon, Katherine Richardson was listening to gospel music when her reverie was broken by a fellow tenant telling her there was a fire in their Detroit apartment building.

It didn’t sound threatening so Richardson returned to her music. But then the fire alarm at Parkview Place Apartments sounded.

Richardson escaped uninjured but eight other residents were taken to a hospital for burns or smoke inhalation, fire officials said.

Three residents were in critical condition, including a man with second- and third-degree burns, said fire officials. The other five victims suffered minor smoke inhalation.

The fire began shortly after 5 p.m. at the building located near Chene and Robert Bradby Drive.

EMTs roll a patient toward an ambulance at the scene of a fire at Parkview Place Apartments near Chene and Robert Bradby Drive in Detroit on Sunday.

Richardson, who is president of the apartments’ tenant council, said she was glad the damage wasn’t more severe. The building on the east side of Detroit has 199 units on its 15 floor.

“It could have been worse,” she said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, said fire officials.

The names of the injured weren’t immediately available.

The Parkview Place apartments at 1401 Chene in Detroit.

The blaze began in an apartment on the seventh floor but was quickly contained within an hour, said fire officials.

When firefighters arrived, they found several residents waiting for help from their balconies.

“It was scary, People were shook up,” said Berniece Connors, whose mother lives in the building.

Richardson, who has lived at the building 13 years and been tenant president for all but one of those years.

“This is happening too often,” she said about incidents at the complex.

Authorities had asked the Salvation Army to help residents and the Detroit Department of Transportation to provide buses as places for them to keep warm.

But the buses hadn’t arrived for several hours as residents shivered in the apartment complex’s parking lot.

The fire began shortly after 5 p.m. at the building located near Chene and Robert Bradby Drive.

The scene of a fire at the Parkview Place Apartments in Detroit on Sunday.

As firefighters were wrapping up their work, residents wondered when they might be able to return to their apartments.

Connors said she hoped her mother could return that night, but it depended whether her apartment had received smoke or water damage.

"We don't know. We won't know until we get back in," she said.