Only the hollowed-out, charred structure of the pale yellow,
barn-shaped house at 924 Oakland Ave. remains after an early
morning fire destroyed the residence, which was home to several
Michigan football players.

Ashley Dinges
A residence at 924 Oakland Street suffered severe damage from a fire in the early morning of Wednesday, June 16, 2004. Multiple members of the Michigan football team lived in the house. (TONY DING/Daily)

Ann Arbor Fire Department Fire Marshal Ron Heemstra said
firefighters were called to the scene at about 4:00 this morning
and responded within four minutes. The caller informed officers
that people were still trapped inside the house.

“The crews got here, and everyone had gotten outside,” Heemstra
said.

Although all individuals inside were able to escape, two
residents sustained injuries. Sophomore offensive lineman Jake Long
remains in serious to fair condition at University Hospital after
smoke inhalation, said University Health System spokeswoman Kara
Gavin.

“Jake has inhalation injuries and that’s why they’re putting him
in serious to fair condition, because with inhalation you have to
monitor (the patient) for a while and see how it develops. That’s
just typical of inhalation injuries,” Gavin said.

Sophomore offensive lineman Patrick Sharrow was treated and
released from the emergency room after jumping out of a
second-story window in the house, Gavin said.

One other unidentified female and two firefighters were
transported to the hospital, Heemstra said. One of the firefighters
suffered first, second and third degree burns to his hand, and the
other received a cut on his forearm.

Residents of 924 Oakland were unavailable for comment.

Investigators are still uncertain how the fire started.

“The cause and origin is all under investigation,” said
Battalion Chief Mark Redies.

Detective Kevin Warner said the fire might have started on a
couch located on the porch. Officials are investigating whether or
not it was ignited on purpose or accidentally.

Heemstra added that other nearby houses sustained damages,
including melted blinds and siding and cracked windows. Fallen
charred debris was strewn across cars parked within the vicinity of
the site, and two vehicles in the driveway were damaged as
well.

“Because of the instability of the structure, right now we can’t
even get inside to the second and third floors,” Heemstra said.

“The first thing they need to do is to secure it, and then
they’ll probably demolish it and I would imagine rebuild,” Redies
said.

The team’s Assistant Media Relations Director David Ablauf
confirmed that earlier this morning, the players were taken to
Schembechler Hall to rest. Head Coach Lloyd Carr arrived at the
house just before 5:00 a.m., he added.

Ablauf said Carr is working with other team officials to make
travel arrangements for parents of the players.

“Our football office is helping to make sure they’re getting
into town, getting into contact with their children, their sons.
They’re helping coordinate finding them a hotel to stay in,” Ablauf
said.

He added that the NCAA is providing the victims with the “bare
minimum” in terms of clothing and other necessities.

“Obviously these individuals lost all their possessions, going
from wallets to every possession they own,” Ablauf said.

University President Mary Sue Coleman issued a written statement
late this afternoon regarding the incident.

“Our staff in Student Services is already working with all
affected students and their families to identify alternative
housing arrangements and immediate needs. While this is a
distressing situation for our students, I am very thankful that no
lives were lost,” said Coleman, in the statement.

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