DETROIT – A deadly house fire on Danbury Street early Friday morning is under investigation by the Detroit Police Department
While three people escaped the burning home, David Thomas was unable to get out and was killed. Family members said the fire started on the first floor in the kitchen and spread to the second floor, where Thomas was trapped.
"The kitchen was on fire. I ran back, but the house was so filled with smoke that their uncle, right there, was stuck," said Pamela Pauline, Thomas' niece. "They couldn't get him out."
"He was just a wonderful, wonderful man. I knew him all my life," said Michael Mellison, a close friend of the victim. "Such a great loss, a great loss."
Thomas' friends and family are finding hope in his faith.
"I know in his last moments, he prayed," Pauline said. "He's going to heaven."
Thomas was active in his church, Lomax Temple on Dequindre Street. He was there Thursday, assisting the church's pantry help those in need. He was also a Sunday school teacher and role model to his community.
Pastor Brian Relford is still trying to figure out how to help the church through such a loss.
"A lot of prayer, a lot of listening," Relford said. "That's the best we can do at this time. It's going to be a shock."
The other family members are left without a home and are now planning Thomas' funeral.
"He's a beautiful person," Pauline said. "He's a family person."
Arson investigators do not believe the fire was set intentionally, but they are working to make sure.
The family is in touch with the American Red Cross.