ME releases firefighter Brian Woehlke's cause of death - KMSP-TV

ME releases Wayne-Westland firefighter Brian Woehlke's cause of death

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Firefighter Brian Woehlke with his family.  The medical examiner said he died from smoke and soot inhalation. Firefighter Brian Woehlke with his family. The medical examiner said he died from smoke and soot inhalation.
WESTLAND, Mich. (WJBK) -

One by one, people came Thursday to drop off flowers in front of what is left of the charred structure on Wayne Road in Westland that used to be Marvaso's Italian restaurant and charity poker room The Electric Stick where firefighter 29-year-old Brian Woehlke lost his life in the line of duty.

Michelle Walbott brought her son to say a prayer.

"Just to say a prayer and to think about his family, that he wasn't going to be home for his daughter, and just to think about him," she said.

Medical Examiner Determines Cause of Death

Woehlke was found on his hands and knees under rubble from a wall collapsing, but that is not what killed the firefighter according to the Wayne County medical examiner, who said he died of smoke and soot inhalation. The manner of death has been ruled an accident.

Restoration crews are removing part of the roof and the front of the building, securing it so investigators can then get inside and to the ground level to see where the fire started and what may have caused it.

"The goal is, and everyone has sincere interest, make it safe and without hesitancy determine exactly what went wrong," said Ray Ahonen from Belfor Restoration.

The fire marshall is in the process of ruling certain things out starting with anything electrical. Investigators plan to bring in an arson dog to determine if an accelerant was used.

Friends Say Woehlke Was a 'Great Guy'

It has been especially tough for those who knew Woehlke. Colin Brennen was his former partner when they worked as EMTs with Rapid Response. He said Woehlke was a great guy who always had a smile on his face.

"One thing he always wanted to do, which is collective in our group of friends is we all want to be firemen. He made it to where he wanted be, and we're real proud of him. It's just really sad he had to go this way," Brennen said.

"We owe him a lot. We really appreciate the service. He was a really great guy, a really good family guy, and it's hard to see someone like that go," said Chelsea Blow.

Funeral Arrangements

According to the City of Westland's website, visitation for Woehlke will be Saturday, May 11 from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 12 from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Harry J. Will Funeral Home in Wayne. A funeral mass will be held on Monday, May 13 starting at 11:00 a.m. at Divine Child Catholic Church in Dearborn. Click here for more information.

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