June 20, 2013GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Intense heat and flames confronted officers from four departments fighting a Lakeshore house fire during a thunderstorm the night of Thursday, June 13.
“Firefighters found the first-floor library fully involved with smoke and fire,” said John Schulte, Grosse Pointe Shores public safety director.
“When I pulled up, the front door was a fireball,” said Lt. Jack Patterson, among four Grosse Pointe Farms officers answering the second of three alarms. “The left side (of the house) seemed to have more fire than the right.”
The fire was reported at 11:08 p.m. in the 900 block of Lakeshore.
First-responders found the residents outside.
“Battery-powered smoke alarms alerted the homeowners and quite possibly saved their lives,” Schulte said.
A third alarm summoned Grosse Pointe Woods officers.
Firefighters worked in rotation.
“Team I goes in, then comes out and Team 2 goes in,” Patterson said.
Major apparatus consisted of both Shores fire trucks, the Woods’ tower truck and a Farms pumper.
City of Grosse Pointe officers answered a request for extra manpower.
“We had heavy, heavy fire in front of the house,” Patterson said.
Flames turned water to steam.
“If you have a compartmentalized fire, you can open a line on a medium fog for a few seconds, then shut down the line,” Patterson said. “The water turns to steam. It expands to 7,000 times its original size and darkens a fire really quick. Flames go out like turning out the lights.”
“The fire was under control at 1:30 a.m. (Friday, June 14),” Schulte said. “There were no injuries.”
The first and second floors have heavy damage, he said.
“All things considered, officers made a great stop on the fire,” Schulte said.
About a dozen members of the Farms volunteer auxiliary supported the fight. They filled officers’ air tanks, handled hoses and gear.
“It was the night of our training,” Patterson said. “This was real.”
“Throughout the fire, there was thunder, lightning and heavy rain, which hampered our operations,” Schulte said.
Shores fire investigator, Lt. Bill Nicholson, working with an insurance investigator, determined the origin to be on the south wall of the library.
“There was evidence that a radio/cassette player that was plugged into the wall indicated an event that started the fire,”Schulte said. “The fire was determined to be accidental.”