Four people were killed and five were injured in an apartment fire in a structure on Whittier in Detroit. Photo Credit: Alex Fire Chaser - S.E. Mi Fire&Weather/Periscope (@fireandweather)
DETROIT (WJBK) - WEB UPDATE 11 p.m.: Detroit police have arrested a suspect for the fatal fire that killed five people and injured four on the east side Wednesday.
Investigators are calling it an arson case, for the blaze that destroyed an apartment building on Whittier and Beaconsfield, reports FOX 2's Hannah Saunders.
The Detroit Fire Department was sent scrambling to put out dozens and dozens of fires out caused by the wind, but now they say this one, is more suspicious.
A man is being detained and questioned about the fire. Neighbor Joseph Harris believes he heard that man, whom he didn't recognize, making threats to the owner of the apartment building one day ago.
"It appeared to be an argument, I was leaving the building," Harris said. "I didn't intervene because I figured it was his business, basically it was to the affect that he would burn down the building."
Harris is a retired Detroit police officer and the owner of the building next store, which was also damaged.
"It's just ironic to me that the next day, that the building is on fire," Harris said.
The fire started on the second floor toward the rear of the building at the apartments around 1:30 in the afternoon.
"First companies on the scene found heavy fire, the wind was coming from the rear," said David Fornell, deputy commissioner Detroit Fire Department. "And it was actually driving the fire thoroughly the building. So they had a real hard time getting in there."
Four unidentified people died on scene. The fifth person killed, a 61-year-old man, died of his injuries in the hospital after being rescued by firefighters, shown in this video circulating online by Alex Fire Chaser.
"When we got here there were 4 people that had jumped out the windows," Fornell said.
Four others were rushed to the hospital with severe burns and smoke inhalation. One is listed in critical condition, one is in serious, and the two others have been treated and released.
Neighbors say the people in that building mostly kept to themselves, and many were elderly and disabled. Nikki Wilson is still waiting to hear who the victims are.
"It's crazy to think after all these years over here some people are just gone like that," said neighbor Nikki Wilson.
Harris says the victims were folks who could've used more of a helping hand.
"I'm just hoping and praying that everybody can get along at this point and just understand that this is our city, and we've got to take care of it. Period," Harris said. "That's just how it has to be."
Investigators still are examining all possibilities here, from arson to accidental.