1 dead, 4 injured in morning house fire in Sterling Heights

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A morning house fire killed an 18-year-old woman and critically injured two others in Sterling Heights Wednesday.

Two firefighters suffered minor burns to theirs heads and necks at the scene and had to be rescued from the fire at a ranch-style house on Mariano Street. 

A 24-year-old man and a woman in her 20s suffered burns over 30 to 40 percent of their bodies, but are expected to make a full recovery, according to the fire department. 

Panicked screams for help startled Carol Yee Wednesday morning as flames and smoke. 

"In maybe three minutes the whole roof was engulfed," said Yee. "There was just black smoke billowing."

Sterling Heights fire crews received a call at 8:15 and arrived within four minutes. 

"There was a well-involved fire, people still trapped in the building," said Battalion Chief Tim Bade, Sterling Heights fire.

The fire started near the kitchen as neighbors say the father was able to escape. But three others were still inside, including his 18-year-old daughter.

"Her bedroom was behind the kitchen, you could hear her yelling, her dad was yelling cover your face," Bade said.

The teen's father had already tried to get to his daughter - through the garage and porch.

"It was just black smoke by that time, he couldn't even see, he had to just wait," Yee said.

Fire crews rushed inside but a sudden burst of flames - known as flashover - stopped them in their tracks.
"Everything gets to about 1,100 degrees and catches on fire," Bade said. "They were unprotected; they didn't bring a hose line with them in there because they were rescuing people."

A second crew ran in and pulled everyone inside to safety - including two family members from the basement and two injured firefighters. 

The father is expected to be okay but 18-year-old woman severely burned, died in the hospital.

"I can't imagine what Jim and Nada are going through now," said Yee.

Bade says right now - it appears the fire started in the kitchen likely from someone cooking - but they won't know for sure for a couple of days. Yee is now taking care of their cat.
"But I think they did lose two pets in the fire," she said.

Neighbors are in shock and say they are praying for the family.
"If there's anything we can do for you nada and Jim we're here for you," Yee said.

"I hope they know that everybody's pulling for them and everybody cares about them," said neighbor Gayle Warfield.