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Posted on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

12 families displaced by blaze at Ypsilanti Township apartment complex

By Kyle Feldscher

A major fire gutted a building at the Schooner Cove apartment complex Monday afternoon, displacing 12 families from their homes.

Firefighters were dispatched to the Ypsilanti Township apartment complex, off Huron River Drive near Tuttle Hill Road about 1 p.m. Monday. Ypsilanti Township Fire Chief Eric Copeland said the fire started in a second- or third-floor apartment at the front of the building.

Witnesses told a grease fire in a second-floor apartment started the fire, but Copeland said it’s not clear at this point what started the blaze.

“At this point, there is no determination,” Copeland said at 3 p.m. Monday. An investigator was on the way to the scene, he added.

Schooner Cove fire

Complete coverage of the fire at the Ypsilanti Township apartment complex

Firefighters from Ypsilanti Township, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, Augusta Township and Superior Township battled the blaze for most of the early afternoon Monday. At 1:30 p.m., the smoke from the blaze was so thick it was impossible to see the parking lot where firefighters set up their command station.

By 3 p.m., most of the blaze was extinguished and firefighters were working to knock down the remaining hot spots, Copeland said.

No one was injured in the fire and all the residents were evacuated. The American Red Cross said in a statement at least 12 families were affected by the fire and food and water was being provided to first responders on site.

Kelly Gorski, associate director of operations for McKinley, the company that owns the apartment complex, said all of the displaced residents had somewhere to stay Monday night thanks to the Red Cross. The company was also working with the residents to perhaps transfer them to other McKinley properties in the area.

Leo LeBron lives on the first floor of the building and said he was shaken from a nap by a woman running through the building, knocking on apartment doors and alerting residents to the fire.


Smoke billows from the burning building at Schooner Cove.

Joseph Tobianski |

“There wasn’t a fire alarm, there was a lady from another building banging on the doors, telling us to get out,” he said. “I was actually asleep at the time and she woke me up. I managed to get one of my cats out but one of them is still in there.”

LeBron wasn’t sure if his second cat made it through the fire but was hopeful. At one point, he actually rushed back into his apartment while firefighters worked to contain the swirling flames not far above his head.

“I ran back inside to try and find her, because they’re not going to do anything until they break the door down,” he said.

Most of the fire was contained to the top floors of the three-story, L-shaped building.

Ann Arbor firefighter Jason Gravelle rescued two cats from two different apartments in the building’s second and third floors. Two dogs also escaped harm in the blaze, one of which was carried to a Huron Valley Ambulance vehicle by a firefighter. There were other pets unaccounted for as of 3 p.m. Monday.

Approximately 40 firefighters were on scene, in addition to deputies from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and three units from Huron Valley Ambulance.

Neighbors and residents stood in the January cold, watching the firefighters dodge falling pieces of roof and siding while they fought the flames. Water poured out of the crevices of the building as fire crews battled the blaze.

Sean Elamon lives in the building immediately adjacent to the burning building 5086. He said he was keeping a close eye on the flames as they neared his building.

“It was pretty surreal,” he said, looking at the corner of the building where flames were shooting into the blue sky. “I was worried about this part of the building getting it by the other one. I was watching this part pretty closely because I didn’t want it to jump over.”

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Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


General ypsi

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Please don't forget YpsilantiTownship firefighters who rescued 3 cats and a dog. Ypsilanti City firefighters who rescued another cat. Good job boys , superb job even with your short staffing issues.

Kathy Asher

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

You gotta love firemen Thank you!

Soft Paw

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

That's the problem with apartment living. No matter how careful you try to be you are still at the mercy of someone else's carelessness.

Sarah MacDonald

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

I think the fire department should have a fire safety class every year for incoming tenants. I think it might really help some of these fires.

General ypsi

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

They do. They have fire safety at Neighborhood watch meetings. They have fire safety at open houses. You can always walk into station with questions.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I would suggest sprinkler systems to be installed in all new rental property kitchens.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

How about actually writing about the people who were displaced and how they can be helped? That's what the title would imply. Three articles about the pets (and I love pets) makes it seem like the pets are more important than the people.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

Maybe give gender/clothing sizes, or what types of items they lost. If clothing was lost, I'm sure many people have items in their closets that could go to families. Most of us have plenty to spare.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

I live in the next apartment over and the smoke was covering the sky. It is so horrible and I thank God no one was hurt and from what I hear through other news sites all the animals are accounted for as well. These firemen are brave and wonderful risking their lives. Also the woman who went door to door did such a noble and gracious thing many wouldn't. She saved the lives of those people. I want to help or donate in any way I can if anyone has information on how I can do that!

music to my ear

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:42 a.m.

shine on ,good ideal.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

Also, any school age children that are residents of the damaged apartments would attend Lincoln Consolidated Schools. Often it is the schools that play a large role in assistance. You could contact the school district to find out what needs there may be.

music to my ear

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

call the red cross ,they will tell you to just donate money. go tomorrow to the building some displaced people may be there to see the damage. (BUT be careful of scammers) nice of you to think of others.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1 a.m.

I'm interested in whether there were working smoke detectors and a fire suppression system?

Matt Lang

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

I live in the bldg. next to the one that burned, we all have at least 2 fire detectors, a fire extinguisher, and a co2 detector that get checked twice a year


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

Forgot to add: thanks to all the firefighters and other first responders who put their own health and safety at risk protecting us and our property!!! Also, thank God nobody was hurt and thanks to the residents who alerted others.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

"Witnesses told a grease fire in a second-floor apartment started the fire, but Copeland said it's not clear at this point what started the blaze." yes, grease fire or no, grease fire started it. Whatever caused it, it looks bad with a lot of damage. Kudos to the firemen who saved the cat.

Honest Abe

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Oh, the humanity! These poor families!!


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

The Red Cross assists the displaced families with their immediate needs, including housing. Thank you Red Cross!