Some of the five victims living in a Novi basement are believed to have tried to escape the smoke-filled house but were overcome by smoke and fumes — possibly caused by a smoker, reports detroitnews.com.
Director David Molloy said when firefighters arrived at the home on Mystic Forest Drive within minutes of the 9:31 a.m. emergency calls Sunday, the two-story Cape Cod-style home was engulfed in smoke.
“There was zero visibility inside there and that was with firefighters wearing protective gear and having oxygen tanks,” Molloy said.
Molloy said five men — believed to be Mexican nationals in their late 20s — were found in the finished basement.
Their deaths were due to smoke and soot inhalation, according to autopsies performed by the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office.
They are believed to have been employed at Kim’s Garden Chinese Restaurant in Novi. The restaurant owner, who also is the owner of the home, permitted several men to live there. The men have not been officially identified.
“The home’s owner made the first 911 call,” Molloy said. “He apparently arrived at the home and saw the smoke coming out.”
Firefighters and investigators found evidence that at least some of the five men realized there was a fire and “were trying to get out of there.”
“Several had smoke and soot around the nose and mouth and hands cupped over the nose and mouth,” Molloy said. “Firefighters attempted CPR on at least one victim.”
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