January 1, 2009 -- (The Ann Arbor News) --A fire forced residents to leap from two-story Pittsfield Township apartment building balconies to escape in the early morning hours of New Year's Day.
According to the Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety reports and the Washtenaw County Red Cross, at least two people were taken to the hospital.
Condition reports were not available Thursday evening, but Deputy Fire Director Al D'Agostino said injuries appeared to have resulted from jumping.
One person was also rescued from the burning building by firefighters, he said.
The fire displaced residents in 16 apartments in the Greenway Park Apartments on Golfside Road, just south of Washtenaw Avenue. The complex is operated by CMB Property Management; officials with the company could not be reached Thursday.
Damage was estimated at $550,000. The cause of the fire was still under investigation late Thursday; D'Agostino said investigators would get a closer look Friday once steam and smoke had fully cleared out. He said investigators had identified a probable area of origin.
Firefighters reported they found flames visible from the first and second floors of the building when they arrived after getting the alarm at 12:33 a.m. Thursday. They called for assistance from the fire departments in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and Saline.
At dusk Thursday, the building stood roped off with yellow caution tape. Ice filled the parking area as 6-degree temperatures froze the water used to put out the fire.
Lights shone from other buildings in the dense complex, but the affected building stood empty. Any curious bystanders were long since driven indoors.
Anindite Ghosh, who lives in the front part of the complex, said she smelled smoke shortly after midnight.
"We heard lots of sirens and ambulances," she said. "I opened the balcony door and saw lots of smoke against the sky. One of the (buildings) was burning."
Kris Thompson of the Washtenaw County Chapter of the American Red Cross said the agency assisted two families displaced by the fire.
Workers from Belfor Property Restoration of Troy were at the scene sealing up the burned out apartment building.
Paul Clarke, senior estimator for Belfor, said residents of eight of the apartments could likely return to their homes once electricity and heat was restored. Of the remaining unit, he said, four apartments sustained major fire damage and four others had heavy smoke damage.
"It's a pretty sad way for some of these people to start the New Year," Clarke said.