Westland fire forces 100 to evacuate, families mourn couple killed by wrong-way driver, vaccine rates tick up

Firefighters have been battling a blaze at an apartment in Westland since Wednesday evening.

Three connected buildings encompassing dozens of living units are now wrapped in a blaze that's been moving through the structure since about 11 p.m. last night.

No one was hurt in the blaze, but more than 100 people from the 36-unit structure are now displaced as a result of the fire. 

The fire managed to move quickly because there were no firewalls between the buildings.

Residents were evacuated from the Westwood Village Apartments Wednesday night after a fire grew out of control. No cause has been determined, but authorities are looking at the work that roofers were doing Wednesday on top of one of the buildings that caught fire.

However, a witness did say crews appeared to have the fire under control last night when it managed to get out of control again. 

Video of the scene showed flames around the building around 6 in the morning. 

The apartment is located near Joy and Newburgh Road, just east of I-275. 

Tony Tolbert, area basketball player dead at 50

Tony Tolbert, a Detroit high school basketball star who played at two Michigan universities, has died at age 50. Tolbert was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 after not getting the vaccination, friends and family said. He died Monday.

"He didn’t think he could catch it. ... I was telling him every day, ‘Get your shot, get your shot,’" Antoine Joubert, a friend and fellow Detroit basketball legend, told local media. "He’d say, ‘I ain’t worried about it.’"

Tolbert played basketball at Michigan after an extraordinary career at St. Martin DePorres High School. He transferred to Detroit Mercy and played two seasons, leading the Titans in scoring both times. Despite playing only two seasons, Tolbert was 16th on Detroit Mercy’s all-time scoring list when he finished his career in 1994.

"He was a funny guy, full of life and a joy to be around and we will all miss him," Tolbert’s former coach, Perry Watson, said.

Couple killed by wrong-way suspected drunk driver

The families of Daniel Mixon and Nakia Payton were still coming to terms with the deaths of the couple as they gathered to remember them Wednesday. "Nothing in the world could amount to the pain I'm going through losing my father," said Cordell Pope. "Not just a dad - he was a father."

Mixon and Payton were traveling in I-96 early Saturday morning when they were struck by a wrong-way driver. State police started getting calls about the individual around 3 a.m. Then came the call saying the driver had crashed into Mixon's motorcycle. Payton was killed instantly and her partner several hours later.

"And you can't say sorry because sorry is not going to fix the problem," said Lakaria Payton. Both she and Tatiyana remember their mom as a loving and devoted woman. She was a parent to five and Daniel was a father of three. He was a carpenter by trade and an avid poker player and roller skater.

"You don't realize what you've done, the impact of the people you have taken away from everybody," said Ruby Alexander, ex-wife of Mixon. "So many people, so many lives, their mom, his dad." Police are still waiting on a toxicology report but believe the wrong-way driver was drunk. Suffering only minor injuries, he has since been released from the Detroit Detention Center and has yet to be charged.

Michigan vaccine rate rising after three straight weeks

After a consistent decline in the number of people getting their first dose of the vaccine, Michigan has reported three straight weeks of increases for the COVID-19 vaccination.

After bottoming out in mid-July with only 28,000 first-dose shots, the state has reported 30,502, 35,952, and 41,150 first-dose series over the last three weeks. The turnaround has coincided with a dangerous upswing in new cases as well as the rise of the Delta variant and its more infectious capabilities. 

Ironically, the state's vaccine lottery campaign ended only five days ago. It was designed to boost coverage rates among populations more hesitant to get the vaccine. However, it appears to not have had an effect on increasing rates. 

Alarm bells are going off around the country in states will low vaccine rates that are now seeing some of the highest hospitalization rates ever reported. The vast majority of those people were not vaccinated against the virus.

Another workplace accident at warehouse where 2 others have died

A worker at a Sterling Heights warehouse was injured after a slab of granite fell on him. Fortunately, he will recover. However, the facility where it happened is the same place where two workers were killed in a similar accident two years ago.

Sterling Heights Assistant Fire Chief Ed Miller was there. when rescue crews recovered the bodies of the two employees at  Stone Warehouse. They were rushed to death - by granite slabs weighing about 1,000 pounds apiece. "It's sad," he said. The men had been using a crane to lift slabs off a rack. Other slabs tipped, which created a domino effect. The workers were killed instantly. 

Then, two days ago, another employee had his legs pinned after being crushed by a material at the same warehouse. "Luckily some of his co-workers were able to lift some of the weight off and then our crews came and used airbags to life the rest of the weight off of him," Miller said.  

The warehouse was originally shut down for five months after the fatal accidents and corrections were made that allowed them to reopen. However, an investigation has been reopened into the facility. 

What else we're watching

  1. Inmates and one jail officer in Genesee County were sickened by a non-narcotic substance that was put into a pot of water recently. The county sheriff believes they have identified who was behind it.
  2. Two adorable french bulldogs were stolen from a Detroit front yard at gunpoint Wednesday and a $5,000 return is being offered for their safe return.
  3. So far, about $29 million in grants to Detroit residents have been approved by FEMA over disaster declarations from June flooding. City officials walked people through how to file an application for relief yesterday.
  4. President Joe Biden has more news for the auto industry - he wants automakers to raise gas mileage and cut tailpipe pollution between now and 2026. Automakers have also voluntarily committed to making half of their vehicle sales electric by 2030.
  5. Several members of Michigan's congressional delegation will be alongside energy secretary Jennifer Granholm for a tour of an electronics manufacturing facility Thursday. The secretary will be onsite around 10:45 a.m. 

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

The good stretch of weather will continue this week, although the temperatures aren't getting any cooler over the next few days as forecasts expect us to hit 90 degrees by Sunday or Monday. Anticipate some showers over the weekend. 

Louisiana reports influx of pediatric COVID-19 cases amid delta variant-fueled surge

Louisiana’s largest hospital system is seeing more pediatric COVID-19 patients as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus spreads.

Ochsner Health said Wednesday the system had no pediatric COVID-19 patients several weeks ago, but the number has been ranging from five to 15 the past two weeks.

However, Dr. William Lennarz who is head of pediatrics at Ochsner Hospital for Children says that doesn’t mean the delta variant is disproportionately affecting children. He says that "what is different is that children now make up the most susceptible population because children under 12 are 100% not vaccinated."

Lennarz also says most of the hospitalized children aren’t critically ill with COVID-19. He says that is still a very rare occurrence for youngsters affected by the coronavirus.