Woman dead, 3 homes destroyed in east Detroit fire

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit fire officials are investigating the cause of a blaze early Tuesday on the city's east side that left an elderly woman dead and destroyed three homes.

Crews were called to the 6600 block of Burns about 3:30 a.m. and arrived to find three neighboring houses with flames shooting through the roofs, said Dave Fornell, a deputy fire commissioner. 

Investigators believe the two-alarm fire started in one of the structures, which is vacant, and spread to the others, he said.

A fourth residence also started to catch fire but crews quickly extinguished it and only the siding melted, Fornell added.

Firefighters learned a resident was inside one of the dwellings. "After the fire was situated and it was safe to do so, our people made entry and searched and found an 80-year-old woman" dead inside, Fornell said.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office was expected to determine the cause of death.

Everyone at the other occupied house that caught fire escaped, but all three buildings affected collapsed, Fornell said. "The fire was tremendously intense."

The investigation is ongoing and fire officials have not determined how the blaze erupted, he said. "We don’t know yet exactly what happened."