Western Wayne County
Fire Department Mutual Aid Association
  • February 19, 2019


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    • Service all heating systems and all gas-, oil- or coal-burning appliances by a technician annually.

    • Install a battery-operated and electric-powered carbon monoxide detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911.

    • Contact a doctor if you believe you have carbon monoxide poisoning.

    • Do not use gas-powered devices such as a generator, grill or stove inside your home, basement or near a near a window or door. Generators should be operated more than 15 feet from the home.

    • Do not run any gas-powered motor inside a closed structure, such as a garage.

    • Do not heat a home with a gas oven.

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  • 'Those two loved each other': Westland apartment fire claims engaged couple
    Posted On: May 02, 2018

    This story has been updated, and Ben Kelley's age corrected.

    Having lost both her parents as a child, Lisa Back overcame a difficult adolescence to find inner strength, a job she loved and a man with whom she wanted to share her life.

    But tragedy struck over the weekend in Westland, when Back, 20, and her fiancé, Ben Kelley, 26, died in a fire that began Saturday night in their apartment building.

    "Those two loved each other, that was very clear," said Linda Macchiarolo, who with husband Matt owns the Town Peddler antique and craft mall in Livonia, where Back worked and was preparing to take on managerial duties.

    "She'll be missed more than anybody can know," Matt Macchiarolo said. "It was like one of the family that we lost." There's been a lot of crying at the Town Peddler since the fire, he said, and the mall was closed Sunday to give employees time to cope with the loss.

    The fire at the Woodland Villa Apartments, near Warren and Central City Parkway, started in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment, said Westland Fire Chief Michael Stradtner. A man there had fallen asleep while cooking chicken tenders on his stove, he said.

    Back and Kelley lived on the floor above; their bodies were found in their apartment, Stradtner said.

    "It was a rapidly spreading fire," the chief said. Firefighters made several rescues, he said, and prevented the blaze from spreading to a connected neighboring building, but couldn't make an interior attack on the fire because of its intensity.

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    Back and Kelley met at Eastern Michigan University and had been together for about two years, said Debbie Pisani of Redford Township, Back's maternal aunt. They were planning an October wedding.

    Kelley, who had a degree from Eastern and worked at an Ann Arbor restaurant, had visited several times, Pisani said. "He was sweet. Real nice guy," she said.

    Back was 11 when her mother Roberta died and not quite 14 when her father Ron also died. Pisani and her husband John were Back's guardians for a few years after that.

    "She had a really rough go the first year she was here," Pisani said. She and her husband still care for Back's older sister Holly, who has a cognitive disability.

    Back loved cats, liked to draw and paint — often giving away her art as birthday and Christmas gifts — and was a fan of horror films, Pisani said. She attended Redford Union High School for three years, graduated from Wayne Memorial High School and went to EMU for a couple of years, she said. She left school to seek direction and save money and recently had been considering returning to college, she said.

    "She liked her job (at the Town Peddler)," Pisani said. "She enjoyed working there. She liked all the people she worked with."

    "The customers loved her," Linda Macchiarolo said. With charming looks and a positive attitude, she said, Back was always able to lift the spirits of those around her.

    "She had these eyes that looked into your soul and she was just a beautiful, happy girl," she said. Back was excited about her upcoming wedding and had shared a photograph of her wedding dress with co-workers.

    Kelley, who would sometimes visit Back at work or bring her lunch, was "very thoughtful, really loved her," Linda Macchiarolo said.

    "He was kind to her. She was definitely head over heels," said Erin Babcock, who worked with Back.

    Babcock, who became friends with Back while training her at the Town Peddler, described her as fun-loving but selfless.

    "She was always putting other people before herself," Babcock said. She said Back seemed to have an inner strength that was perhaps she developed as a result of having lost her parents while very young.

    "She just became very independent and driven at a young age," she said.

    Firefighters arrived at the Woodland Villa complex Saturday night to a chaotic scene, Stradtner said, with several people trapped in their apartments because of heavy smoke in the hallways. Seven people were injured, including the man in whose apartment the fire started, who suffered serious burns and was hospitalized, the chief said.

    The firefighting effort saw dramatic rescues, including of a young boy who was dropped from a third-floor window by his mother and caught by people on the ground, Stradtner said. The mother then jumped from the apartment and suffered a fractured ankle and was taken to a hospital. The boy appeared to be uninjured, but was taken to a hospital for observation, the chief said.

    Three other people were rescued from the burning building by firefighters using ladders.

    Stradtner said the fire department was told there were working smoke detectors in the building and will try to confirm that though follow-up interviews with affected residents.

    The apartment management company, Paragon Properties, is providing temporary housing for displaced Woodland Villa residents at its vacant apartments in the area, the chief said.

    Visitation for Back and Kelley is noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at Crane Funeral Home, 36885 Goddard, Romulus. A GoFundMe campaign to raise money for funeral expenses, with a goal of $25,000, listed more than $23,000 in donations Tuesday evening.

    Kelley is survived by his parents, Kevin and Paula Kelley of Dundee, and three siblings, Megan, Al and Rachel. In addition to the Pisanis and her sister, Holly, Back is survived by several aunts, uncles and cousins.

    Contact Matt Jachman at mjachman@hometownlife.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattjachman.

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