Fatal fire still under investigation

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Fire investigators hope to soon release the cause of the Sept. 15 fire at the Leo Paluch senior apartment that claimed one life and hospitalized several.

“We have no cause as of now,” Fire Chief Doug LaFond said. “We have ruled out arson. This was definitely ruled as accidental.”

He said the cause of the fatal blaze at the complex, 17000 Champaign, is still was under investigation as of press time.

Christine Bentley, 63, died from smoke inhalation and 11 were treated for smoke inhalation. Bentley’s body was found outside of her apartment.

The fire reportedly started in Bentley’s second floor apartment. Leo Paluch Executive Director Andy Hill said Bentley’s knocking on other residents’ doors saved their lives. Bentley was taken to Oakwood Hospital – Dearborn, where she was pronounced dead.

Hill said 11 were also taken to hospitals and all have since been released. Hill said Tuesday that no one suffered burn injuries.

Hill said residents were evacuated to the Allen Park Library as part of the city’s senior housing emergency plan. Hill, however, said the center will re-evaluate the plan to see if there is room for improvement.

He said no one was burned in the incident and the units were evacuated minutes after the fire started.

“We haven’t had a fatal fire in the city since 2008,” LaFond said.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at tnims@bewickpublications.com.)