Oxygen Tanks Reportedly Fuel Deadly Michigan Fire

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Investigators believe a dangerous combination of an oxygen tank and a candle caused a deadly fire at a Shelby Township apartment complex over the weekend.

Jesse Sonenberg, 22, died of smoke inhalation in the fire Saturday at the Crystal Lake apartments located at 23 Mile and Dequindre roads, according to Local 4.

The fire started in an apartment located three units away from where Sonenberg was found, Local 4 reported. A grandmother, her daughter and grandson who were in the first-floor unit escaped the flames unharmed.

The apartment where the fire originated was filled with oxygen tanks, Local 4 reported. Shelby Township Fire Marshall Thomas Means said the flame would have been "very intense, very hot" if it was fed by the oxygen.

Two firefighters were injured while rescuing residents from the building. One was treated and released for minor injuries. The second firefighter suffered severe burns on his hands and was being treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

Ricky Klest said his mother and stepfather had to jump to safety during the apartment fire.

"They were starting to panic. So they ran to the door wall, and just opened it and jumped," said Klest.

Fourteen residents were displaced by the fire due to water and smoke damage, the station reported.

Rachel Yaek, a friend of Sonenberg, said she didn't see much damage in his apartment following the fire.

Firefighters believe a combination of the thick smoke and an inoperable smoke alarm contributed to the 22-year-old's death.

Sonenberg was survived by a 21-year-old sister and an 18-month-old son. The family said donations were being accepted to the Jesse Sonenberg Memorial Fund through the Deiner Funeral Home -- located at 48271 Van Dyke Ave. -- in Shelby Township. A memorial fund was also planned to be established Monday at the Credit Union One -- located at 51111 Van Dyke Ave. -- in Shelby Township.

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