Final report from house fire presented 6.11

Written by David Green.

Just like family members said, there was a hero at work during the devastating house fire May 24 in Morenci.

A police investigation of the incident showed that Matthew Delaney made an admirable effort to save family members and guests.

“Matthew Delaney truly is a hero in this case,” Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks said. “He was awakened by screams and ran upstairs to rescue Robert, Chris and Matt Wilson.”

He helped those three escape the burning house by climbing out a window onto the porch roof and jumping to safety.

“Had it not been for him,” Weeks said, “we would have likely had more casualties.”

Delaney also tried to go back inside to save Johnathan Pike and Chelsey Sedlacek, Weeks said, but by then smoke and flames prevented him from entering the house.

The county medical examiner ruled that smoke inhalation was the primary cause of death for Pike and Sedlacek.

The two victims were in a room located above the living room where the fire is thought to have originated. Smoke and heat likely traveled up through vents and into that room, Weeks said.

The state fire marshal listed the cause of the fire as undetermined. The marshal didn’t rule out the presence of a candle as the cause, but he couldn’t make clear determination.

“We just don’t know,” Weeks said.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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