The nearly 90 senior citizens who lived in Shelby Manor Apartment Building B Saturday morning when it caught fire will not be returning to their homes until 2013.
“It’s difficult this time of year with Thanksgiving coming up that these people can’t return to their homes,” said Interim Shelby Township Fire Chief James Swinkowski.
The 90 senior citizens, many immobile and wheel-chair bound had to be evacuated and some rescued from their balcony Saturday morning from the independent senior complex on Schoenherr Road, just north of Hall Road, when a fire broke out on the second floor just before 8 a.m.
The fire was contained to four units in Apartment B, but the entire Building B has sustained water damage. Power, electricity and water remains shut off as restoration crews enter the building.
All but two apartments in the 90-unit complex were occupied at the time of the fire. Most residents have gone to stay with family and friends. The Red Cross has been assisting the residents who had nowhere to go with temporary shelter. The Red Cross told Patch about 20 residents were given money to stay in hotels of their choice for the few days following the fire.
There is no firm date on when residents will be able to return to the apartment, which will be gutted, but not turn down. However, Swinkowski said it could take several months.
“The goal is to get as many people back in as soon as we can. The people with the most damage will probably be the last ones in,” he said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Swinkowski. However, several residents told Patch they suspected a faulty furnace on the second floor had exploded.
Two people were transported to the hospital after the fire. One person was treated for a twisted ankle and another resident was transported to the hospital a few hours after the fire, but was expected to be OK, Swinkowski told Patch.
“That in itself is an absolute miracle that nobody was seriously injured. We had a lot of people in wheelchairs and walkers and some had to be taken out by the third floor balcony with ladder trucks,” said Swinkowski.
Several firefighters sustained minor back injuries in the fire.
The apartment complex will remain under 24-hour police surveillance for the next few days and through the holidays.