Fire destroys senior apartment complex in Pontiac

Brothers jump into action after West Manor apartments catch fire

PONTIAC, Mich. – Two brothers jumped into action when they saw an entire apartment building on fire.

The fire, which broke out at the West Manor apartments on Paddox Street east of Woodward Avenue, quickly ripped through an apartment complex for seniors.

Saturday evening those living in the apartments found themselves in survival mode. Inside the 40-unit complex were mostly seniors citizens.

Diane Ellsworth depends on a wheelchair. She tried her best to get out of her first-floor apartment.

"I was going down the hall, and this gentleman came and helped me out," Ellsworth said.

A stranger appeared out of the dark smoke, pushing her to safety.

Before she could say thank you, Ellsworth said, "He just took off and went to help someone else."

Frank Benion and his brother just happened to be across the street.

"So we ran on over there and started knocking on windows and doors," Benion said.

Despite the intensity of the fire, Benion didn't hesitate.

"Not realizing the danger, just going in there and doing what a fellow citizen would do," Benion said.

Once inside, many people weren't moving, despite the alarm sounding.

"The people were in shock," Benion said. "They didn't believe what was going on."

The fire spread quickly, moving into the roof and destroying the entire complex.

It would take hours for fire crews to get the fire under control as residents looked on in disbelief. Those residents, like Benion, can't believe what they survived.

Everyone was able to get out and no one was hurt.

Crews continued to monitor the building for hotspots Saturday evening. There was no official cause for the fire.