Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 9, 2013

Firefighter's body found after blaze

WESTLAND (AP) — A 29-year-old firefighter was killed Wednesday while fire crews battled a blaze at a Detroit-area strip mall.

A search and rescue team located Brian Woehlke’s body Wednesday afternoon in a gutted building in Westland, about 15 miles west of Detroit.

A mayday call went over the fire department’s communications system about 9:30 a.m., about the time the roof above one of the businesses in the strip mall collapsed.

It soon was determined that officials had accounted for all firefighters except Woehlke.

Rescuers pushed through the burned-out rubble until his body was found.

“He dedicated his life to protecting the residents of Wayne and Westland and this is a terrible loss for the firefighter’s family and our entire community,” Westland Mayor William Wild wrote on the city’s website. “This tragedy is a reminder to us all of the sacrifice that firefighters make along with their family and friends every single day.”

An official cause of death for Woehlke has not yet been determined.

Woehlke had only been with the Wayne-Westland Fire Department about 10 months. He lived in Dearborn, was married and had one child, according to Wild.

The fire was reported about 8:30 a.m. at the Electric Stick billiard hall and charity poker parlor. It was under control by noon.

The billiard hall and a nearby restaurant were destroyed. The blaze also spread to adjacent businesses.

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