Officials investigate apartment fire; some believe it was set intentionally

Posted at 6:37 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 08:50:57-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Families were forced out of their homes Monday morning after a fire broke out at an apartment complex in Southfield, and some residents think it was set intentionally.

"The lady said that since she's getting evicted, she's going to blow the house up. That's what she was telling everybody," said a woman whose home was destroyed Monday morning when a fast-moving fire raced through a building at Cranbrook Centre Apartments.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, believes another tenant who had been fighting an eviction case is responsible for the fire.

"This lady is nowhere to be found," she said. "We've been looking for her. Everybody's been looking for her, trying to contact her and she's still nowhere in sight."

Southfield Fire Department Chief Johnny Menifee said investigators are trying to determine a cause and that they could not rule anything out.

7 Action News spoke by phone to the mother of the woman accused by some residents of being responsible for the blaze. She said her daughter, who is in her 30s, was not home at the time of the fire. She said her daughter had gone to her children's father's home to pick the kids up and take them to school.

The woman said she was the one who received the call from management at the apartment building, telling her not only was the apartment building on fire but that her daughter should not return to the location for fear that there would be a fight.

When asked about the eviction case against her daughter, she said it was no longer an issue because her daughter and management agreed that she would move out at the beginning of next month.

The woman said her daughter briefly spoke to investigators but that she was too distraught to drive or talk much.

"She lost everything too," the woman said, adding that she was considering starting a GoFundMe page to help her daughter and her grandchildren start over.

Sixteen units are now unlivable, damaged or destroyed by fire, smoke and water, which also compromised the electrical system, according to Menifee. No injuries were reported.

Hilda Brown is thankful that she and her husband were able to escape with their beloved dog.

"It's horrible when you lose everything that you have worked so hard for," Brown said.

Brown should be in a better position to restart a new home because she and her husband have renters insurance.

"People don't understand that small little thing in life, when this occurs, you don't lose your mind," Brown said. "You're just like, hey, call these people, make it right, we're good. (The dog's) out, my husband's out, my family is safe. That is all that mattered to me."

The American Red Cross is helping those who need assistance in finding another place to live.