DETROIT – The flames that ripped through an apartment building in Midtown Detroit were caused by a marijuana grow operation in a unit that was supposed to be vacant, fire officials said.
The fire was reported Monday morning at the Brainard Apartments on Brainard Street near Second Avenue.
Residents of the apartment complex said they have a tight-knit community, and many of them worked together to escape the fire.
“Every neighbor -- we’ve all got each other’s backs,” one resident said. “We all know each other by first names.”
“That’s when it got real -- when everyone was at the stairway with their dogs and cats,” resident Evan Hutchings said. “That got pretty scary.”
Fire crews surrounded the building, fighting the flames coming from the top corner unit. The unit is supposed to be vacant, but it was being used by someone as an illegal grow house, according to Detroit Fire Chief Marvin Parker.
Parker said the fire was caused by the grow operation.
Many residents said they didn’t hear smoke alarms, but they smelled smoke and ran out of the building.
“It was scary,” one resident said. “It’s like your whole life flashes before your eyes.”
Firefighters said everyone got out of the building safely.
“That’s how you know God is real -- something woke me up," one resident said.
Parker said the grow operation was powered by both electricity and solar panels on the side of the building. They have not yet named the person responsible for the operation.