Investigation continues in 'tragic' Eastpointe fire
Authorities are trying to determine the cause and origin of a house fire that killed three children in Eastpointe last week.
Eric Keiser, Eastpointe’s acting director of public safety, said Tuesday the investigation continues. The damage done to the house is making it challenging, he said.
"It's a tragic and emotional story," Keiser said. "People want answers, but they just don't come fast in this type of case."
On Monday, he told the Associated Press an initial investigation hasn’t shown signs of arson, but extensive damage has complicated investigative efforts. He said fire officials didn’t find working smoke detectors in the home, which caught fire early Saturday.
He reiterated the comments Tuesday.
"Fire and police investigators were out at the scene all day yesterday trying to determine cause and origin," he said Tuesday. "I do not have a response from them yet. Because of the amount of damage to the house, it's very hard to get physical evidence."
Keiser said investigators are still interviewing family members and witnesses "to determine what happened and why." They're working as fast as they can, he added.
The acting public safety director said he couldn't say more because he doesn't want to jeopardize the investigation.
"We're still trying to gather all of the facts to determine which way to go next," Keiser said.
Found dead were two boys — 8-year-old Zyahir Swain and 9-year-old Brendon Mahone — and a girl, 4-year-old Madison Adams. Keiser said two women who were the mothers of the children lived there but weren’t home at the time.
Meanwhile, Eastpointe Community Schools said it made grief counselors available to classmates of the boys, officials said Monday.
“This weekend Eastpointe suffered the tragic loss of three children in a house fire,” Ryan McLeod, the school district’s superintendent, said in a letter to parents on the school system’s website.
“Two of the children are students in Eastpointe Community Schools. Zyahir Swain is a 2nd-grade student from Forest Park (Elementary) and Brendon Mahone is a 4th-grade student from Pleasantview (Elementary).”
Eastpointe firefighters and police responded to the house fire about 5 a.m. Saturday on the 15000 block of Juliana, near East Eight Mile and Gratiot.
The home belongs to Lawrence Sr. and Sheila Swain, according to city records.
The children were found in an upstairs bedroom, according to officials.
They said the home was occupied by two families, including two mothers and five children. The two other children were at another house around the block, police said.
The Associated Press contributed.