House involved in fatal Saginaw fire had been condemned hours earlier

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SAGINAW (WJRT) (2/13/2018) - Hours before a house in the 1700 block of Wood Street caught fire in Saginaw, the city's building inspector had been there to condemn it.

The fire reported late Monday left one woman dead and another in critical condition. A man was able to escape the house safely.

Neighbor Ric Russell had concerns about the home well before the fire. It was in need of repair and he wasn't sure if it was safe to live in.

His fears became reality when the fire broke out around 10 p.m. Monday and he noticed a commotion outside.

"Then the next thing I know, the front window where the Hammer sign just blew out, a big boom," he said. "It blew out and the flames just came out."

The fire was raging inside. Russell noticed the man who lives in the house.

"His sister is handicapped, his mom is elderly and doesn't get around all that well," Russell said. "He didn't know where they were. I said, 'Where abouts in the house were they?' He didn't know anything."

Firefighters and police were on the scene within four minutes. Saginaw Fire Chief Chris Van Loo said fire crews had pulled one of the women out within five minutes of the call.

Rescue workers were performing CPR on her when firefighters pulled the second woman out.

The first victim, a 71-year-old woman was flown to a hospital in the Detroit area in critical condition. Her daughter, a 41-year-old woman, died after she was taken to the hospital.

Van Loo confirmed the house had been condemned earlier on Monday. Saginaw code enforcement officers were there around 3 p.m., but they could not discuss the reason for the house being condemned.

City records show the house is owned by OTB Investment Group, which did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

A Michigan State Police fire investigator assigned to the case could not confirm how the fire started, but he believes it started in the front of the house.

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