Second brother dies from Detroit house fire

Holly Fournier and Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Detroit — The second of two brothers caught in a house fire on the city’s east side Friday morning has also died.

Cortez Burrell, 17, died overnight at Detroit Receiving Hospital, according to hospital spokesman Alton Gunn on Monday. He suffered smoke inhalation and third-degree burns during a fire that killed his 12-year-old brother, Quartez Burrell, in their home on the 8200 block of Lyford, near City Airport, shortly before 5 a.m. Friday.

Investigators believe the fire was accidental and started in the first-floor living room near a staircase, which would have made it impossible for anyone to go up or down the stairs during the fire.

“Per the arson unit, the preliminary cause of the fire was electrical in nature,” Chief Dale Bradley said on Monday. “That’s as far as they got, but they have to do a thorough investigation.”

Both parents of the brothers made it out of the home but the boys were trapped upstairs. Their father made repeated attempts to rescue them but was driven back by heat and smoke, according to a neighbor.

“The mother ran out, and I hollered at her to come over here,” said Renee Lanier-Campbell, 57, who lives across the street and has known the family for more than 10 years, on Friday. “I saw the father running around the house, yelling for his sons.”

Lanier-Campbell said she watched as the father tried multiple times to get back into the home.

“But the smoke was too deep to get in,” she said.

The Burrell family also includes two daughters who were away at school when the tragedy occurred.

According to neighbors, the family is well-respected in the neighborhood and the brothers were active in sports including basketball and the martial arts.

hfounier@detroitnews.com

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