By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — A fire the afternoon of March 26 took the life of a 52-year-old resident.
James Mark Perez, 52, died as a result of the blaze, which started while he was draining gasoline from his motorcycle in his garage in the 1850 block of Electric.
Perez was alive but unconscious when police arrived and had burns covering 90 percent of his body. He was lying on the floor near the side door to the garage and struggling to breathe.
Police said it appeared that Perez was draining raw gasoline from the carburetor of the motorcycle when the gas was ignited by a portable propane heater he had brought into the garage to warm it.
Police Chief Daniel Grant said those conditions caused a flash fire inside the small space.
Perez’s 54-year-old girlfriend told police she looked out to see smoke coming from the garage and the siding melting at about 1:30 p.m. Perez had been working in the garage since about 11 a.m.
Perez had closed the side door to the garage and the vehicle-entry door. When the girlfriend hit the remote control button, the door did not open, she said.
“It wasn’t locked,” Grant said. “It was sealed up tight. When the fire happened, I’m sure he panicked and he tried to get out unsuccessfully.”
Officers said it appeared Perez had attempted to exit both doors but was unable to. His girlfriend and a neighbor had to manually open the vehicle-entry door.
Perez was transferred to Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital and later transfered by a University of Michigan Medical Center MedFlight helicopter. He died during the transfer, Grant said.
The flames melted the vinyl siding on one side of the garage. No nearby buildings were damaged.
The windshield of the 2009 Harley-Davidson motorcycle was melted.