Questions linger as family of 4 lost in Hamtramck house fire

An early morning house fire in Hamtramck claimed a family of four after two young boys and their parents were trapped in the top floor. 

The fire killed father James Parker, his wife Fredye and sons James Jr., 11, and Jarred, 7, found in the upper level of the home on Yemans street. 

The boys' two older sisters were away at college and are now the surviving members of the family. A GoFundMe account has been set up by Detroit Police Athletic League for them and will also go toward paying funeral costs 

It started just before 2 a.m. Tuesday. The Justus family, who lives nearby, said that was when their lights flickered. They looked outside and immediately called 911. 

"I didn't know what to think. We hoped and prayed they got out," Francis Justus said.

The cause is still unknown, said Chief Paul Wilk of the Hamtramck Fire Department.

Investigators say the house had a newer furnace and no space heaters were found. Now, Wilk is urging everyone to get a smoke detector, something Wilk said the family didn't have.

"Smoke detectors save lives," Wilk said. "We did not find any smoke detectors. It may have melted and fell on the floor. It's possible but I don't think they had smoke detectors." 

As fire crews continue searching for answers, Robert Justus, Jr. is still trying to make sense of the tragedy that cut his friends' life short 

"James' biggest dream was to be a professional football player," he said.

Firefighters say the family was likely asleep when the fire began but believe the family appeared to have tried to escape but was overcome by the smoke. 

First responders made it to the scene in time and were able to get inside the home, but they, too, were overwhelmed by the smoke and flames and were therefore unable to help rescue the family. 

Investigators are working to determine how the fire started. The Detroit Fire Department is assisting in the investigation. 

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