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Posted on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Ann Arbor apartment resident: 'Flames were pouring out the window'

By John Counts


Crews began cleanup efforts at the apartment building after Sunday night's fire.

Daniel Brenner |

Kory Moore was talking to her mother on the telephone around 9 p.m. Sunday when she sensed something wasn't right.

"I just smelled this hot smell," said the 27-year-old University of Michigan graduate student. "Then I heard this girl screaming, 'Fire!'"


Crews clean up debris from Sunday night's apartment fire.

Daniel Brenner |

Moore, who lives in the basement apartment of the building at 1310 Packard St. that burned Sunday night in Ann Arbor, grabbed a few things and headed outside.

"I opened the door and saw all the smoke," she recalled. "I ran through the smoke."

Moore didn't realize the magnitude of the fire until she got outside.

"I couldn't believe this was actually happening," she said. "The flames were pouring out of the window."

Police seemed to be on the scene instantly, Moore said, and fire crews were only about 10 seconds behind them.

"It was incredible how fast they got there," she said.

A lot of people were crowding the scene, and Moore said she was aware of someone screaming that there were still people left in the building and that authorities were going in to rescue them.

The freezing weather, a cold mix of rain and snow, prompted Moore to call some friends to come and pick her up once a police officer told her she wouldn't likely be able to get back into her apartment that night.

Moore said her apartment in the basement on the east side was largely spared, only sustaining smoke damage. She said the fire had its most devastating effects on the west side of the six-unit building.


Firefighters battle the blaze at 1310 Packard Street Sunday night.

Photo courtesy of Lee Alexander

Moore ended up staying with friends. Four volunteers from the Washtenaw-Lenawee County Chapter of the American Red Cross responded provided two people with food, clothing and lodging, the organization said in a press release.

Monday morning, at least half of the six-unit building appeared to be destroyed.

Plywood filled two empty windows facing the street. A pile of blackened debris sat in a planting bed amid bushes and trees.

Crews were starting to pick up the pieces around the building at 1310 Packard St. about 9 a.m. Monday.

Fire investigators continue to look into what started the blaze that sent six people -- three residents and three police officers — to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Police and firefighters rescued four people from the burning apartments Sunday night.

Three Ann Arbor police officers were sent to the hospital, evaluated and released Sunday night, said Sgt. Matt Lige. They were helping to save a woman from the building when they suffered the smoke inhalation, he said.

As of 10:30 a.m., it was not clear what happened to the residents who were taken to the hospital. was still waiting for the Ann Arbor Fire Department to return calls. The property management company and the Red Cross also didn't immediately return phone calls.

Update at 1:16 p.m.: There were fire-related violations of city ordinances noted at the building when it was last inspected and currently a certificate of occupancy -- which a dwelling gets updated every three years -- had not been renewed, said Ralph Welton, Ann Arbor's chief development officer.

"It was still pending," he added. "Basically, they were operating without a certificate."

In a report dated Sept. 13 2012, three of the apartments inspected did not have smoke detectors.

The next step would be to deem the building uninhabitable, but the building's owners still had time before this step was taken, Welton said. The amount of time depends on the severity of the infractions. In addition to the missing smoke detectors, there were minor problems with garbage disposals and light switches, according to records.

Welton didn't think any of the infractions had to do with the start of the fire, but that not having detectors could pose problems.

"I don't see anything ... that's necessarily a fire hazard," he said. "If there were no smoke detectors working, that could be dangerous,"

Records indicate a company called The Highway Company International owns the building. As of 1:35 p.m., the company had not returned a call to

This story will continue to be updated.

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


Lets Get Real

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

Is this the apartment building on Packard that sold this past summer whose new owners claimed they were going to renovate and upgrade everything?


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

Ralph Welton, Ann Arbor's chief development officer: "It was still pending," he added. "Basically, they were operating without a certificate [of occupancy]." Question of the Day: Will the City Aty prosecute the landlord for violating the law? Sitting here with abated breath . . .


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Who or what is the Highway Company International? This can be found in public city records.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.,%20LLC

Fat Bill

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

How would you like to have been on the phone with your kid while the building is on fire....jeez.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

One important clarification: I've read a copy of the housing inspection report. It notes that smoke detectors needed to be added in certain areas. It DOES NOT state that NO smoke detectors were present in the building.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

The report does not indicate there were any units totally without smoke detectors, only that some units needed smoke detectors installed. My rental unit is 600 sq. feet and had two working smoke detectors at last inspection yet the inspector required a third to be installed. I now have three detectors within 15 feet of each other and only one can be isolated by closing a door! (And NONE are in the kitchen!) Whatever makes the city happy, I guess.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

Working smoke detectors need to be in each apartment. Having smoke detectors in some apartments only doesn't help. Those residents might be out or unable to notify others. Of course, there's also the legal obligation of landlords to provide smoke detectors. We provide our own equipment because we are homeowners. Besides replacing smoke detector batteries regularly, a couple of years ago we replaced some smoke detectors. We also chose to replace our fire extinguishers instead of the alternative of refreshing them. There are also smaller fire extinguishers that can be carried in a vehicle. If an apartment owner doesn't at least provide smoke detectors, as required, it may not be a criminal offense if tenants are injured in a fire (and the certificate of occupancy is in effect), but might it be a civil offense?


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.

The three police officers who continued to rescue a woman from the building even as they suffered smoke inhalation are heroes.

Jack Eaton

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

We are fortunate to have highly skilled dedicated police officers and fire fighters. I must admit that having public safety employees who are willing to run into a burning building to rescue residents makes me want to return the favor by making sure there is enough public safety staffing to protect our police and fire fighters from harm. In a somewhat related report, it appears that the City will abandon its plan to close fire stations:


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

Thanks to Ann Arbor police and fire employees. Covering a grease fire with a lid to keep air (oxygen) out is a quick fix, but not easy to think about when frightened by fire where we don't want it. Quick healing and suitable repairs and restoration to all.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

4 months ago they didn't have working smoke detectors in 3 apartments. 4 months ago. Their certificate of occupancy hadn't been renewed, but they still had time before the building was declared uninhabitable. So when do the tenants get told they are in a dangerous building operating without a certificate of occupancy? Obviously not soon enough.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Also, it's possible the building owner had taken care of all the violations and hadn't yet had a re-inspection. Possible. Hopefully!

laura wolf

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

i would think the tenants would know if the smoke detectors aren't working. if any tenant feels unsafe because of no smoke detector or no fire extinguisher they can buy one to protect themselves. the landlord is required to provide these things but the tenant doesn't have to sit there and wait to be taken care of either.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

John?.... can you check to see what is required of apartment owners to supply?.. I would think a fire extinguisher would be mandatory.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

According to the city inspector who last checked my unit, fire extinguishers are not mandatory. However, if extinguishers are present they must have current inspection tags on them.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

"In a report dated Sept. 13 2012, three of the apartments inspected did not have smoke detectors." Hard to believe that this is not something that the owners and occupants would make sure to have in this day & age. Good work by those police officers.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

No smoke detectors and other violations? Oooh, that's going to be expensive for the owner. But the poor residents. That stinks.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Not sure how you know this was a grease fire Tesla. But I keep an ABC fire extinguisher on my kitchen counter opposite the stove.

George K

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

I am wondering the same thing. Tesla seems quite sure it was a grease fire. Were you there?

George K

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

Wow that's scary. I live in an apartment, and I am always paranoid about one of my neighbors accidentally starting a fire. In Michigan I guess the landlord doesn't have to put a fire extinguisher in your room, so even a small fire could get out of hand in a hurry. At least I live near a fire station, assuming we don't close it due to budget cuts. I feel sorry for those who were burned out of their apartments. Let's hope it was an honest mistake, not an irresponsible one.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

While the proximity of the fire house plays a role in arrival times obviously, a grease fire can get out of control in seconds and be very devastating. Even if you lived next door to a fire house a grease fire can easily be out of control before they can get there.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

Grease fire. I think we all need a refresher on how to handle home fires and I for one am getting some good information online with a few easy searches. Understanding what a fire IS. What a fire NEEDS. and What a fire can not survive without are important and depending on what kind of fire it is will affect your decision in how to take away one or more of the things a fire needs to survive safely....OR, as safely as possible. Fires suck.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

I'm curious as to where you read it was a grease fire. I checked the News, Free Press, Michigan Daily, and this site - in their posted stories all report the cause unknown.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

Relax G. I read it yesterday in one of the number of news stories.

George K

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

Soo... how exactly do you know it was a grease fire? Do you have an "inside man" in the fire/police department? Were you the one who started the fire? 'Cause it seems to me like that's speculation. Can you cite your sources?


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

Understand too that I have large fire extinguishers in my home (two) one in my truck, and two in my garage and I still don't know enough. Neither do you.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

"Crews were started to pick up the pieces....."

John Counts

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Thanks, this has been changed.