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January 14, 1994 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-01-14

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Local News




Above: More than 30 apartments were

Left: Several apartments were
completely gutted.

A firefighter deploys a hose.

continued from page 1

completed a preliminary inquiry. They
likely will have no conclusions about
what started the fire until next week,
said Chief Cecil Dawson of Royal Oak
Township's Department of Public
Twelve units were completely de-
stroyed. More than 30 units — some
in the adjoining building — were dam-
aged by smoke and flames. No one
died. No one was injured. But many
Russian Jews, who arrived here with
nothing more than a suitcase, saw
their new lives in America literally go
up in smoke.


"Today I start
my life
from scratch."

Polina Bilmes








"They're just getting their feet on
the ground and now they've lost ev-
erything," said Sandy Hyman, direc-
tor of Resettlement Service.
Two families with college students
had just purchased computers. Gone.
A mastectomy patient recently re-
ceived a costly prosthesis. Gone. One
woman's memories of her mother
were contained on a single VCR tape.

"There are multiple
tragedies involved in this,"
Ms. Hyman said.
Private organizations
within the Jewish and
gentile communities re-
sponded quickly. On the
day of the fire, representa-
tives of Resettlement
Service, Jewish Family
Service, the Red Cross and
Kadima showed up to help
feed and relocate the home-
less. Kadima, largely
funded by the Jewish com-
munity, is a non-sectarian
agency that provides sup-
port for adults with mental
illness. Two Kadima clients
lived in the building that
burned down.
Andy Beider, a member
of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, was
listening to his car radio on his way
home from work Thursday evening
when he heard about the disaster. He
made a detour to Northgate to offer
his family's home as temporary shel-
ter to fire victims.
But the Ramada Inn in Southfield
already had signed victims up for
rooms, and many others spent the
night with friends and family
members. In the Northgate club-
house, the Red Cross provided hot
foodand worked with bi-lingual
social workers from Resettlement

Below: Firefighter Dave Theibert
cleans up.

Service to meet the needs of the dis-
By Friday, Northgate administra-
tors had relocated all victims to va-
cant units throughout the complex.
The Bilmes family — Polina, Gregory
and sons Igor, 14, and Eugene, 6 —
moved into a Northgate apartment a
block away from their old home, which
was destroyed.
Last Thursday, Eugene was play-
ing outside during recess at nearby
Avery elementary school when he
looked up to see smoke curling up
from the Northgate area on Greenfield
Road and Lincoln.

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