A residential structure fire in the 5300 block of Wayne Road in White Lake Township at approximately 4:55 p.m. on Sunday, April 1, claimed the life of Joseph Kowall, the younger brother of state Sen. Mike Kowall (R-Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield).
Joseph Kowall had serious medical issues and was recovering from cancer treatments.
According to White Lake Fire Chief Anthony Maltese, Kowall’s caregiver had left him in bed at around 2:30 p.m. Sunday and returned shortly before 5 p.m. to find the house filled with smoke.
When firefighters responded, they found heavy smoke coming from a side entry door.
The caregiver told firefighters that Joseph Kowall was probably in the home’s first-floor bedroom.
Firefighters entered the home, extinguished the blaze, and found Joseph Kowall on the floor alongside his bed. They reported finding thick smoke in the room.
After evacuating the home through a door wall in the bedroom, firefighters reportedly noticed “obvious signs of death.” Paramedics pronounced Joseph Kowall dead at the scene.
The fire had been confined to the first-floor bedroom and had been quickly extinguished.
According to the fire department, foul play is not suspected and the cause of the fire is still under investigation by White Lake Township Police Department detectives and Fire Department investigators, along with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department investigators.
Meanwhile, the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office is determining the exact cause of death.
Joseph Kowall was part owner of Accurate Woodworking, the Kowall family business located on Highland Road in Waterford Township.
According to Sen. Kowall, his brother was a “jokester” with a mischievous sense of humor.
“He was the anti-me,” Sen. Kowall stated on his Facebook page.
“And I don’t know if Joe had a Facebook page, but if he did, you probably wouldn’t want to visit it,” he said with a laugh, according to Mike Murray, Sen. Kowall’s Chief of Staff.
Sen. Kowall’s Facebook page states funeral arrangements are pending.