PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A 71-year-old man was killed in a fire at an apartment north of Grand Rapids Sunday night.
He was identified as Steven Dood. The medical examiner’s office said he died due to smoke inhalation.
Around 11 p.m., crews with the Plainfield Township Fire Department were sent to a building on Plainfield Avenue NE near the intersection of Coit Avenue NE for a fire.
Plainfield Township Fire Chief Steve McKellar said a body was found inside the building.
The building, which was significantly damaged, had an insurance company on the first floor and apartments on the second floor, according to McKellar.
Brittney Ulanch and her three daughters, ages 12, 10 and 6, were in another apartment in the building. They escaped after Ulanch smelled smoke.
“I walked out into my hallway by my living room and saw everything was just a cloud of smoke,” she told News 8. “So I grabbed my kids and we went over by the door because we have to go down the stairs to get out. And we opened the door it was just white smoke everywhere and we couldn’t see down the stairs. And (I) just carried them down and got in the car. I don’t know how we made it down, not seeing in all the smoke. I’m just happy to be alive.”
She said she didn’t have time to think. She just acted.
“God; I put my faith in him and just tried to stay calm. I just knew I had to get my kids out,” she said.
She said her apartment was destroyed.
“I was able to go up in the apartment a little while back with the fire department and look through and take pictures but, everything’s gone,” she said.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Ulanch and her daughters.
Investigators have not found evidence or working smoke detector in Dood’s apartment. Ulanch had working detectors in her apartment, but not near her front door. The others didn’t go off until she opened the door and the smoke rolled in.
The Plainfield Fire Department is reminding the public to make sure smoke alarms are properly installed and maintained. If you need a smoke and/or carbon monoxide alarm, you’re asked to contact the department at 616.361.2895.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.