Elderly Couple Killed in Detroit House Fire

DETROIT --

Two senior citizens have died in an early morning house fire.

The fire started around 2:30 a.m. at 5092 Holcomb on Detroit's east side, said fire investigators.

Wheelchair-bound 86-year-old John Hightower and his 73-year-old wife, Mary, were found huddled in the kitchen of the burning home.

Firefighters said they were able to contain the fire, but heavy smoke filled the home quickly, said Detroit Arson Investigator Lt. Patrick McNaulty.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the ME (medical examiner's) report came back with smoke inhalation," said McNaulty.

Fire officials said the house had at least one working smoke detector but the victims' ages may have hindered their ability to escape.

Family members told Local 4 the fire may have been caused by careless smoking.

The cause is under investigation but fire investigators said it does not appear to be suspicious.

Neighbors said they saw the house burning.

"It didn't look good to me. I couldn't see how anybody could live through that," said next-door neighbor Abdul Haqq.

Haqq said he was very sad to hear of the tragic news.

"He was real friendly and she always gave gifts to my kids," said Haqq.

The Clora Funeral Home on East 7 Mile Road is offering to help the family pay for the couple's funeral services.

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