Deadly Saginaw house fire ruled arson, investigators say

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SAGINAW (WJRT) (4/23/2019) - Michigan State Police investigators ruled the fire an arson on Tuesday.

Gregory Cross of Lansing died when this house on Bancroft Street in Saginaw caught fire.

The specific cause of the fire was not released. Anyone with information on who set the fire is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-44ARSON.

(4/22/2019) - Investigators are still looking into the cause of a deadly Saginaw house fire, but they are calling it arson.

Fire officials are working on a two-pronged investigation, as a pickup truck parked behind the truck also burned. It was parked far enough from the house that investigators believe it may have caught fire separate from the house.

Buddy Vine, who lives across Bancroft Street from the scene, noticed the fire around 2:30 a.m.

"I was like in panic mode," he said. "I don't see nothing like this unless it's on TV."

As investigators sift through the fire debris, Vine recalled seeing the fire and a child outside the home yelling for help.

"I saw his sister with the baby. She ran out of the house and the granddaddy was at the back of the house on the phone," he said.

The grandfather was calling 911 to report the house was on fire and his 37-year-old nephew was trapped inside.

The fire appears to have started in the front room, where the nephew remained trapped. Vine attempted to get into the house from the back.

"I tried to go in there, took two or three steps in the house, the kitchen, and I couldn't breathe in the house," he said. "It's like, but I heard boom."

It was too dangerous and he ran out of the home. First responders had a difficult time getting through the front door, as well..

Gregory Cross of Lansing, the homeowner's nephew, died. The grandfather, his two grandchildren ages 17 and 11, and a great-grandchild age 9 months were able to escape the fire.

Michigan State Police fire investigators were at the home for several hours Monday and a K-9 team was there to determine whether an accelerant of some kind was used.

Vine is not sure what caused the fire, but he knew he had to try and save the man that was trapped inside.

"I had to try and do something," he said. "I just couldn't just stand there, I had to try to do something."