Deputies' body cams capture harrowing scene at Mount Clemens apartment fire

The Detroit News

A Mount Clemens apartment fire created a harrowing scene of a frozen, charred landscape with residents scrambling from balconies and jumping from windows in a chaotic police video released Monday on Facebook.

As Macomb County deputies arrived, someone is hanging from a window ledge. Others were wandering, aimlessly, in the parking lot in the bitter cold, looking stunned as the fire raged, in video released by the Sheriff's Office. 

"There's a fire in the building," a deputy shouts as he bangs forcefully on a door wall of one apartment. "You gotta come out the window."

The Holiday Garden Apartments in Mount Clemens  on Feb. 14, 2021, the morning after the fire.

The images were from body cameras worn by deputies as they rushed to the scene of the massive fire at Holiday Garden Apartments on North River Road late Saturday. The fire burned into Sunday.

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Sirens scream as some residents wander in the parking lot, stunned from the sudden need to evacuate around 11:30 p.m. Saturday into the cold. Temperatures were as low as 8 degrees by 6:37 a.m. 

Other footage looks ghostly, a frozen parking lot with smoke and flames rising from one of two buildings on the site. Some residents sat on the ground, unable to process what to do or where to go. Some, like the two people officers found lying face down on the ground, appeared injured. One woman said she broke her ankle as deputies helped her to safety and out of the cold.

"Come on. We gotta get you outta here. Come on. Come on," an officer said. 

"Oh, Lord," she cries out. "Oh, my god!"

The smaller of two buildings at the complex burned.

Other portions of the video showed the urgent pace at which offices implored residents remaining in the building on fire to leave. "Anybody down there?" an officer shouts as he descends stairs. The sounds of fists banging on doors to roust residents can be heard.

"There's a fire, there's a fire ... come on, let's go!"

Officers open one door to find a dog racing to the door. "Shut that door, shut that door; there's a dog," someone inside shouts to the officers. He can be heard throughout telling officers he needs to bring his dog.

Officers repeatedly have to tell residents that they have to get out, one pointing out the smoke that's encasing a hallway nearby.

"Bring your dog, man," the officer tells the resident whose dog ran to the door, his tone far more forceful as the fire threat increases.

"Grab your stuff and get out. Come on," an officer says. "I'm going," the man replies as he continues to rifle through belongings in a bedroom. "I gotta get my keys. Later, he wails: "My dog! My dog!"

Crews from Jarvis Property Restoration secure the burned apartment building on Feb. 14, 2021.

Shouts of "get out" continue as officers resort to more forceful moves to push people to safety. "Come on! Come on! Out! Out! Go!" and scuffling can be heard. A caption on one portion of the video explains that some residents were refusing to leave.

Authorities said several people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Management said all who lived in the apartment building had been accounted for. The Michigan Region of the American Red Cross said it provided hotel rooms for at least 20 residents. 

"There is much to do in the coming days and we will work hand in hand with the Red Cross and your insurance companies to get you all allotted benefits and reimbursements possible," Patriot Real Estate Investors told residents in an email Sunday.