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The original item was published from 10/19/2017 11:12:56 AM to 12/2/2017 12:00:03 AM.

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Posted on: September 1, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Investigation by Sterling Heights Fire and Police concludes hookah coals source of May’s fire

Following an investigation by both the Fire and Police Departments, it has been determined the cause of the Sterling Knolls Apartment Complex fire on May 17 started as a result of a careless smoker that did not properly extinguish smoking materials.

On May 17, SHFD responded to a second alarm fire at the Sterling Knolls Apartments complex located at 15 Mile and Dodge Park roads. More than 40 firefighters responded to the scene before it was extinguished. Laura Ann Phillips, 33, of Sterling Heights, lost her life as a result of the fire. The loss estimate from the Fire Marshal was $1.5 million shortly following the fire.

According to the incident investigation report, the resident of the unit where the fire started states he was smoking hookah on the balcony prior to the fire being reported. Additionally, a metal coal pan and coils from the hookah were located by on the balcony in the investigation. The cause of the fire is considered accidental and there will be no criminal charges.  The Medical Examiner has ruled that the cause of death is smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide toxicity, and the manner of death is an accident.

Media with questions can contact Fire Chief Chris Martin at (586) 446-2951 or

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