Kalamazoo Township apartment fire displaces at least 12 families, American Red Cross opens shelter

Posted at 6:29 AM, Aug 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-17 17:16:34-04

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- An early morning apartment fire displaced at least 12 families in Kalamazoo Township Monday, after an attic fire tore through two apartment buildings.

The fire was first reported sometime around 5 a.m. at the Country Meadows apartment complex at 2010 Sunnyside Drive, which is just south of Gull Road. No one was hurt.

Firefighters can be seen in these pictures working on the roof of the unit.
Achia Bates and her family had no warning that their apartment building’s attic was on fire, until she said she woke up to firefighters banging on her door.

“All of a sudden I just heard somebody beating on the door, and I didn’t know who it was,” said Bates. “My kids, they got no clothes on, we ain’t got no shoes on, we just, thank God we got out of there.”

The mother of two stood with her children outside and watched their building burn. Bates is displaced along with at least a dozen other families.

“I am like a thousand times glad, but our stuff is gone,” Bates said.

Of the 14 fire-damaged apartments, Kalamazoo Township Fire Marshal Todd Kowalski said many are no longer livable. No one was hurt, but no smoke alarms went off either.

“Smoke detectors they won’t ring off because they’re not in the attic space and that’s where the fire was at,” said Kowalski.

Michigan Building Code 907.2.11.2(3) requires smoke alarms on every level of a home, but does not require them in uninhabitable attics. It’s a scary fact for residents like Bates.

“I didn’t even hear any smoke alarms or anything, and it was real smoky,” said Bates. “That’s dangerous.”

Now she and other families have come to the American Red Cross shelter at Parchment High School, which supervisors said will stay open until all families have found new homes.

American Red Cross Supervisor Vicki Eichstaedt said Parchment High School cafeteria staff is providing food for displaced families and volunteers, as well as buses to transport families to the shelter if needed.

Kowalski said the cause of the fire is undetermined, as the investigation determines whether the fire was started intentionally.