Westland fire officials said the Westwood Village Apartments near Joy and Hix roads caught fire around midnight Wednesday into Thursday. Three buildings were affected by the fire, and a total of 36 units were destroyed, according to authorities.
Residents were forced to evacuate the complex, but no injuries have been reported.
Angel, who lives in the apartment complex, said when she woke up, the building to the left of hers was on fire, but no smoke alarms were going off in her building.
“I got up to see because I saw a red flashing light,” she said. “I look out the window and there’s a firefighter telling me to come down.”
She said firefighters had the situation under control and she didn’t wake up to a chaotic scene.
“About 11:10 last night, I smelled smoke,” resident Dan Snead said. “I went through my apartment and I didn’t see anything. I smelled something burning. I stepped out right in the hallway. I didn’t see anything. I heard crackling and looked up in the vent, and there were just flames.”
Investigators believe the fire started on the roof. A roofing company was melting rubber in order to create seals for insulation panels on Wednesday, but officials haven’t determined if that is linked to the fire.
“They were doing some roofing work later in the evening yesterday,” said Kelly Eggers, Westland’s assistant chief fire marshal. “That entails some hot work, so right now that’s our best guess. We know it started high and got in the attic space. Once it gets there, it’s really difficult to stop.”
Eggers said firefighters were on the scene for more than six hours battling the flames.
“It’s impossible to stop,” Eggers said. “We’ve had issues with this complex before. The codes weren’t there back in the (1970s). We need to correct that.”
He said all the occupants are accounted for.
Officials said everything on the second floor of the buildings was completely destroyed, but some valuables from the first floor might be salvageable.
“It’s very dangerous,” Eggers said early Thursday moring. “The fire has been affecting the structure for the last six hours, and so there’s the danger of collapse. Water is a concern and the fire’s still plentiful right now. We backed out, we’re trying to surround and drown at this time. Unfortunately (the buildings) are going to be a complete loss.”
Angel was just relieved that everybody got out alive.
“I hope that everybody got out OK, is my first thought,” she said. “I hope everybody is OK. My second thought is that all of this stuff is material, so as long as you’re alive, there’s another day to rebuild all of that. But it’s going to be rough. It’s a pandemic, and a lot of people don’t have anywhere to go.”
Authorities continue to investigate.