Woman, 58, dies, house lost in fire

Times-Herald Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – A family lost everything in a fire that engulfed the house and took the life of a 58-year-old woman and two pets.

Fire Chief Jeffrey Carley said the department received the call at 9:53 p.m. about the house, in the 1400 block of Maple Street, engulfed in flames Aug. 2. Police arrived on scene first, but could not attempt a rescue because of the size of the flames.

Firefighters responded minutes later, entered the house, and found the woman, identified as Iris Shepard, lying face down in the living room.

Paramedics attempted to revive the woman, but were unsuccessful. Shepard was pronounced dead at scene. Carley said she was the only person in the house at the time of the fire. Her two children
– Charles Shepard, 26, and Dena Cooper, 39 – and two grandchildren — Christian Cooper, 11, and Cameron Cooper, 8 — live in the house, but were not home at the time of the fire.

Police said Charles Shepard left about an hour before the fire broke out, and was the first family member to arrive on the scene. Cooper told police she and her sons were at a local restaurant, but she spoke with her mother about 15 minutes before the fire started.
A witness, who called the police, said he tried to enter the house but could not because of the amount of smoke.

Carley said the whole house was engulfed by flames, which could be seen from the front of the house. The Fire Department immediately called for mutual aid from the Southgate Fire Department,
he said, which allowed them to contain the fire and get Shepard out of the house in less than 20 minutes.

The fire was suppressed about 1 a.m. Aug. 3 and the initial investigation, conducted by the Fire Department and the Downriver Fire Investigation Task Force, finished at 3:14 a.m.

The fire was ruled accidental, Carley said, but the cause is still unknown because they have not ruled out smoking or a failed electrical device.

The family owned two dogs and a guinea pig. Carley said one dog and the guinea pig died in the fire and the other dog was not found. He said the second dog may have escaped or been hiding during their search of the house.

There was significant structural damage throughout the first and second floor of the house.

“This is a very tragic accident for this family,” Carley said. “We hope they can recover from this incident quickly. The department
would like to extend our deepest condolences
and wish them the best moving forward.”

The family set up the Iris D. Shepard fund at Chase Bank, 3200 Biddle Ave., for anyone wishing to provide financial aid. Anyone that would like to contact or assist the family in any way can reach Dena Cooper at 313-598-8055, or email Charles Shepard at shepchs@gmail.com.

Visitation for Iris Shepard is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 12 at Kernan Funeral Service, 1020 Fort St. in Lincoln
Park, and the funeral will start shortly after.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)