Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Community members drop off donations to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites where displaced families of the Knob Hill apartment fires are staying on Dec. 22, 2022. Donations included clothes, shoes, winter jackets and boots, food, toiletries, chargers and Christmas presents.

Meridian Township and East Lansing Fire Departments responded to a second fire at Knob Hill Apartments in Okemos on Thursday morning. During recovery efforts, one person was found deceased, according to Meridian Township Fire Chief Michael Hamel.

Investigators are still working to identify the individual and confirm the cause of the initial fire, which started Wednesday morning and left two buildings a “total loss.” Hamel previously said he believed the origin of the fire was a couch.

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Knob Hill Apartments resident John Jorgensen, who lives in a nearby building, said crews were tearing down the building throughout the night. At around 10 a.m. Thursday, he noticed the building in flames again.

As crews continue to demolish the damaged buildings, the surrounding community has joined together in an effort to provide assistance and support to the affected families. 

DTN Management Director of Marketing Denise Todd said the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Okemos reserved rooms for everybody in need. Residents of the neighboring apartment building were also evacuated as a safety precaution, she said.

A large volume of donations of toiletries, clothes, school supplies, food items and more lined tables in the lobby of the hotel for families to take.  

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“We have been truly blessed … The public has been very generous,” Todd said. “We have tons of donations coming in.” 

Donations of physical items have been abundant, so they may be donated again in a different capacity to in-need individuals, Todd said. 

"We've got too many (donations), but I don't want to turn anybody away," Todd said. "They'll all be re-donated."

Todd said Meridian Township is also working to organize a Christmas party for affected children, as the devastation comes during a time when many are celebrating winter holidays.

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American Red Cross regional communications manager Alicia Dorr said the Red Cross is currently assisting at least 18 units with comfort kits.

Multimedia reporter Devin Anderson-Torrez contributed to the contents of this story.

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