UPDATED: Fire Ravages Berkley Home; Family Escapes Unharmed

A dryer malfunction could have caused the Saturday night blaze, which remains under investigation, according to the Berkley Public Safety Department.

Updated, 1:45 p.m. Monday: Berkley Public Safety Sgt. Pete Kelly said all five members of a family that was home Saturday night when a fire broke out at their house on Catalpa escaped safely.

"There were no injuries," he said of the parents and three children.

The west side of the home's basement was fully engulfed in flames, which already had spread through the walls when officers arrived on the scene, according to Kelly. The Berkley Public Safety Department received assistance fighting the fire from the Beverly Hills and Oak Park Public Safety Departments, he added.

"Some of our activities at the scene were hampered by the cold weather," Kelly said.

Burn patterns suggest the fire could have been caused by a malfunction with the family's dryer, but the case remains under investigation, Kelly said.

Sunday: The scent of fire lingered in the air following a blaze that ravaged a Berkley home over the weekend.

Terrence Popp, who lives kitty-corner from the home just west of Woodward Avenue, said he noticed emergency vehicles' lights flashing in front of his house around 7 p.m. Saturday.

When he looked outside to see what was going on, he thought the neighborhood was enveloped in a heavy snowstorm because the air was a swirl of white. But, when he looked east, the air was clear and he realized what he was seeing was smoke from the house fire.

Visibility couldn't have been more than 15 meters, said Popp, who added that the Berkley Public Safety Department arrived quickly and received assistance from neighboring departments. He said Public Safety officers remained on the scene until close to midnight.

His mother Dottie Popp, who owns Peggendott Originals on Coolidge Highway in Berkley, said she was at work when the fire started and received a call alerting her to the blaze on her street. She nervously called her son to make sure his house was OK.

By the time she got home, she said flames were shooting through the neighbor's roof.

"It was a big fire," Popp said.

A salt truck arrived on the scene because water was flowing into the street and freezing, she added.

The front of the home's roof, which appeared collapsed and charred Sunday, was covered with a snowy tarp; its windows were boarded up and the building was otherwise secured.

"That kind of thing is just your worst nightmare," Dottie Popp said.

Brad Young February 04, 2013 at 08:43 PM
How about an update to correct the glaring spelling mistake "drier", instead of "dryer"? Thanks.
Leslie Ellis February 05, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Brad, Merriam Webster says drier is a correct use of the word. However, I do believe dryer is the correct Associated Press style, so I have updated the spelling. Thank you for pointing it out!
Anne February 08, 2013 at 03:22 AM
We saw the fire, and I'm just happy the family was unharmed!


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