Late night condo fire serves as a good reminder for fire safety

By Chris Hagan
Review Staff Writer
In the early morning hours on Monday, the Orion Township Fire Department responded to the report of a condo on fire in the 1900 block of Country Lane near Joslyn and Scripps.
Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies were the first on the scene and reported smoke coming from the front door and flames charging from the rear of the condo. Deputies connected with the homeowners who were outside while other deputies began evacuating tenants from the adjoining condos.
When firefighters arrived, they confirmed all occupants were out of the structure and they entered the home where they were met with heavy smoke, high heat, and heavy fire towards the rear of the condo.
Crews were able to make a quick stop on the fire bringing it under control in less than 20 minutes, but firefighters remained on the scene for several hours hitting hot spots and checking to make sure fire did not extend into the neighboring condos.
Fire Chief Robert Smith, the incident commander for the fire, said the occupants did exactly what they were supposed to; once they were out of the house, they didn’t go back in.
“It’s something we repeat to everyone from childhood to the elderly, if there’s a fire you get out and stay out,” Smith said. “The everyday items we have in our house, when they burn, they burn hotter and release poisonous gas that can incapacitate a person quicker than ever.”
It’s unclear what started the fire but the incident was turned over to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Fire Investigation Unit.
According to the United States Fire Administration, Michigan is number seven in the country for home fire fatalities with 54 reported this year. Texas has suffered the worst with 83 so far this year.
These statistics reaffirm Chief Smith’s emphasis on constantly practicing fire safety measures around the house. He says smoke alarms are still the best life saving devices in the home and should be replaced if they’re older than ten years. He also says practicing home fire drills and ensuring you have two ways out of a structure are pivotal for survival.
“Fifty years ago, you may have had 10 minutes or more to get out of a house if it was on fire, now that number is down to three minutes or less,” he says. “Fire drills are not just meant for school, they’re hugely important in the home; paired with working smoke alarms and an escape plan, you’ll drastically increase your chances of getting out of the house with the most important thing, your life and the life of your children.”