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Tag Archive | "fire"

Autopsy reveals cause of death in fire fatality


The resident of this mobile home was found dead after a fire destroyed his home in the early morning hours last Friday, November 29. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The home was totally destroyed. Courtesy photo.

In December 2019, The Post reported that Troopers from the Michigan State Police Hart Post were investigating the death of an Ensley Township man whose body was found after his mobile home burned.

According to Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander, they were dispatched at 12:23 a.m. on Friday, November 29, to a fully engulfed residential fire at 9300 E. 128th St. in Ensley Township, Newaygo County. 

Both Sand Lake and Grant Fire Departments battled the blaze at the single-wide mobile home. After the fire was extinguished, firefighters found the 59-year-old resident and only occupant of the home, Rodolfo Quesada, deceased. The MSP said he was identified using fingerprint identification technology.

Chief Holtzlander said the state fire marshal told him the cause of the fire was undetermined.

The MSP was waiting on autopsy results for Mr. Quesada to determine his cause of death. 

The Post was recently informed by MSP Spl/Lt. David Cope that following the autopsy, the cause of death was found to be from smoke inhalation and the death has been determined to be an accident.

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Year in Review 2019


Top story for 2019: City Impact to the rescue

By Judy Reed

An ice storm in early 2019 left over 100,000 people without power or heat. Post photo by J. Reed.

There were a couple of big things that happened here in Cedar Springs in 2019, and one entity that had a big part to play in how they both turned out.

In the first week of February, the Cedar Springs community was hit hard by two back to back ice storms that hammered West Michigan, leaving a path of ice, snow, downed tree branches, and downed power lines in its wake. Many were without power on Wednesday, February 6, after the first ice storm, and on Thursday another one hit, causing widespread outages, including most of the Cedar Springs area. Over 100,000 people were without power.

Consumers first predicted Sunday evening to have everyone’s power restored, then changed it to Monday at 11:30 p.m. That was bad news for those without power, including the entire City of Cedar Springs, who lost power when a transmission line at the substation at Fifth and Church Street exploded. Schools remained closed, restaurants and gas stations had no power, and Meijer was on partial power. On top of that, the wind chill took a dive below zero on Friday. What could people do?

They pulled together, that’s what they did. And City Impact of Cedar Springs, a brand new outreach center that is a ministry of Resurrection Life Church in Rockford, played a major part in it.

They were slated to have a grand opening that Saturday, February 9, at 288 N. Main St. Instead, they opened their doors on Friday, February 8, as a warming center to serve people in our community. They were also without power, but someone bought them a 10,000 watt generator, and both businesses and citizens stepped up to donate supplies to help those in need. They received cots and blanket from the Red Cross; a woman in Grand Haven made 40 lbs of bbq to feed people; Lean on Me provided food; others donated snacks, fruit, donuts, bottled water, coffee, and more. 

“We had people coming in all night long to get warm and/or to sleep,” said Kelley Bergsma, who runs the center with her husband Jon. “And these weren’t the people we usually serve.” Instead, she said that a lot of the people they usually serve were in the center serving others. “It’s just amazing the way we came together as a community,” she said.

About 50 people spent the night that Friday at the center. But the volunteers didn’t wait for people to come to them. Several of them walked the dark streets of Cedar Springs Friday night, looking for any house that might have a candle or flicker of light in the window. That’s how they found a 100-year-old woman sitting in the dark, with only her four burners on the stove for warmth. They then brought her to the center. 

They closed the center on Sunday after most of the area’s power came back on.

Others in the area also showed compassion in various ways. As power slowly came back on, some posted on social media that their homes were open for those that needed to get warm or take a shower. One area hair salon offered free shampooing. 

At the time, Bergsma told the Post that she is still in awe of what happened in our community. “It was amazing seeing the entire community come together to help those in need,” she said.

This apartment fire at Red Flannel Acres left seven families homeless. Post photo by J. Reed.

Disaster struck again on August 13, when a fire at the Red Flannel Acres apartments on Oak Court in the City of Cedar Springs left seven families homeless. 

According to Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser, the call came in at 4:31 p.m. that there was smoke in the building, and the second tone said that there were flames showing through the roof. 

Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, and Solon Fire Departments were on scene, and they called for Sparta’s aerial truck to help douse the flames of the two-story building. Courtland was on standby to take any Cedar Springs calls while they were busy fighting the fire. It was later determined that a discarded cigarette had started the fire.

The Springs Church and City Impact stepped up to help families affected by the devastating event, by offering them dinner, a place to go and make phone calls, collect themselves, talk to a social worker, and even sleep. The Red Cross was also on scene. Lean on Me Outreach and North Kent Connect were on site at City Impact to help provide people with food and other essentials. City Impact then compiled a list of needs and has posted it on their Facebook page. They worked with the displaced residents to make sure all their needs were met.

Bergsma is happy with what City Impact accomplished this year. “This was our first year in operation with our completed building, and this building has helped us organize and focus our outreach into the community,” she explained. “We believe that a large impact was made through the many relationship building activities and programs that we offer through the center. We believe this is just the beginning, and we are going to continue to see the Cedar Springs community come together and be an example to other communities of what working together looks like. We welcome 2020 with open arms and we cannot say it enough—Cedar Springs you rock!”

We have many great resources in our community. A big thank you goes out to City Impact for the way they have become a catalyst and hub to help all of these organizations work together. They hold all kinds of events and programs for the public, including Celebrate Recovery!,exercise classes, community meals, and more. For more info check them out on Facebook. Just type in City Impact Cedar Springs.

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Fire burns mobile home


A firefighter works to put out the fire in this mobile home Monday. Post photo by J. Reed.

by Judy Reed

An early afternoon fire destroyed the back end of a mobile home and took the lives of two pets living there Monday.

According to Solon Township’s Deputy Fire Chief Chris Paige, they were dispatched to the fire on Hemlock Avenue in White Creek Country Estates at 1:36 p.m. Monday, July 22. Surrounding fire departments that supplied mutual aid included Algoma, Cedar Springs, and Sand Lake. Rockford Ambulance was there on standby.

Four fire departments responded to the blaze at White Creek Country Estates Monday afternoon. Post photo by J. Reed.

Paige said that when they arrived, they found heavy fire coming from the rear of the residence. There was no one home at the time. Neighbors told the Post that the woman who owned the home was at work. Her two cats unfortunately did not make it out of the home.

Paige said it appeared that the fire started in the rear of the mobile home, but the cause is still under investigation.

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$5,000 reward offered for info on suspicious fire


by Judy Reed

A Cedar Springs woman was out hunting for pokemon in the wee hours of Friday morning when she spotted a trailer on fire as she returned home.

Both Cedar Springs and Sand Lake Fire Departments responded to a fire at 401 Sarah Street just after 2:30 a.m. on Friday, June 28. Photo by Kelli Destrampe.

Kelli Destrampe reported the fire at 401 Sarah Street, in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates, right around 2:30 a.m. Both Cedar Springs and Sand Lake Fire Departments responded to the scene. A Kent County Sheriff deputy and Rockford Ambulance also responded.

“The came in as a report of a trailer fire well involved, and it was unknown if anyone was inside,” explained Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser. He said they had the fire knocked down in the first 10-15 minutes.

There were three other mobile homes surrounding the burning one—one on each side and one behind it. “We did have three exposures, and it melted some of their siding. It could have been such a mess if we didn’t have it knocked down quickly. There could have been three other trailers burning,” remarked Fraser. 

Fraser said the park owned the trailer and they were getting ready to remove it. No one was living there and there were no utilities hooked up, so the cause was not electrical.

No one was living in the mobile home at the time of the fire. Photo by Kelli Destrampe.

Fraser is ruling the fire as “suspicious but undetermined.”

Cedar Springs Mobile Estates is offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest, testimony against, and conviction of the perpetrators responsible for the suspicious fire. If you have any kind of information, please contact the CSME Office at (616) 696-0820 or the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at (616) 632-6100.

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Fire destroys Sand Lake home



Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake was first on the scene. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

What started out as a chimney fire in a home in Pierson Township last week soon spread to the rest of the house, engulfing it in flames.

Four fire area departments responded to the fire at 23326 W. Stanton Rd on Thursday, January 24. Sand Lake was toned out for the fire at about 2:40 p.m. with mutual aid from Solon Fire, Howard City Fire, and Cedar Springs Fire.

According to Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander, the family used a wood stove to heat the home, and the fire began in the chimney. He said the homeowner tried to put out the fire himself before calling to report it. But it soon spread into the walls and attic. 

First to arrive on scene was Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake. 

“When he arrived on scene, there was heavy, thick smoke coming out,” said Holtzlander, “and flames were through the roof. It went from smoke to flames in 5 minutes.”

Holtzlander said that the roof and the first floor eventually collapsed into the basement. 

Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser said the intensity of the flames made it difficult to attack from the inside. “It wasn’t safe for anyone to go in. We had to attack it from the exterior,” he said.

Holtzlander noted that everyone got out safely. The family dog was missing afterward, and it is unknown whether it made it out of the house.

The home belonged to Jerry and Marilyn Beemer. The Red Cross was called in to help, and Holtzlander said they were staying with family in Sparta. The home was reportedly not insured.

Holtzlander did want to remind people to call 911 before trying to put out a fire on their own. “I don’t know if it would’ve made a difference here, but it may make a difference on another fire,” he said.

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Suspicious fires deemed arson


Four fires were set around 4 a.m. Monday morning in Mecosta and Montcalm counties. Fire photo taken by a resident.

A Howard City man has been arrested and police are seeking charges against two alleged accomplices in a string of suspicious fires and a break-in that occurred early Monday morning in Mecosta and Montcalm Counties.

According to the Mecosta County Sheriff Office, the Morley Area Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a structure fire located in northern Deerfield Township on Monday, October 1, at approximately 4:32 a.m. During the response several other fires were discovered in the immediate area. A total of three structure fires were found to have occurred in Deerfield Township, Mecosta County. There was also a fire and a break-in that took place in northern Montcalm County at the same time that the Mecosta County fires were happening.  

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, the Montcalm incidents occurred in Reynolds and Winfield Townships.

Multiple surrounding fire departments responded to the fires, including, Lakeview Fire, Mecosta Twp. Fire, Morton Twp. Fire, Big Rapids Twp. Fire, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Fire Division, Big Prairie fire in Newaygo County, and Maple Valley Fire in Montcalm county.  

The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office was also notified and the Mecosta County Fire Investigation Team was also requested and responded. There were no  reported injuries and all of the structures were unoccupied.    

The Michigan State Police Fire Investigation Unit also responded and investigated the Montcalm County fire. 

The investigation revealed that around 4 a.m. on 10-1-18 the three suspects drove to the locations, gained entry into the buildings, and purposely started all four fires. They also attempted to break into a residence where the owner was asleep. The resident awoke to the sound of the door being kicked in. He yelled at the suspects who then fled from the scene.

A joint investigation led to the identification of three suspects involved in these incidents. Those involved include an 18-year-old female from Morley; a 20-year-old male from Howard City; and a 32-year-old from Howard City. The 32-year-old was arrested for an outstanding warrant while warrants are being sought for the other two suspects.  

The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone that saw anything suspicious to contact the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office at 231-592-0150 or tips@mecostacounty.org, or call the Lakeview Post at 989-352-9444.

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Thank You


We would like to thank everyone who has been so generous with their donations of food, money, clothing, household items and more since we lost everything in a fire on July 1. We would especially like to thank Courtland, Cedar Springs, Oakfield, Spencer, Sand Lake, and Algoma Fire Departments; Rockford Ambulance; The Springs Church, Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, and Courtland Oakfield United Methodist Church; our dear friends Duane and Tiffany; our neighbors Laura and Don DeLange; the Klco family; Cedar Café; B&B Beauty Salon; The Cedar Springs Post; and so many others who have helped us. We could not get through this without you! You’ve turned a tragic moment into a blessing from the Lord. Thank you all so much!

Brian, Melissa, Zach, and Mackenzie Weber

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Courtland family loses home in fire


The home of Brian and Melissa Weber was destroyed in a fire early Sunday morning in Courtland Township. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

A Cedar Springs family is trying to rebuild their life after losing their home and most all of their possessions in a fire early Sunday morning.

According to Deputy Fire Chief Galen Green, Courtland Township Fire was dispatched to 7272 15 Mile Road, just east of Myers Lake Road, on a structure fire, about 7 a.m. Sunday, July 1. 

The owners, Brian and Melissa Weber, were in Minnesota and heading back home from vacation. Their young adult children, Zach and Mackenzie, both in their 20s, did not go with them. Zach was sleeping on the couch at the time of the fire, and Mackenzie was at a friend’s house.

Green said that the family dog woke Zach up. Brian confirmed that.

“Our dog had to bite Zach to get him to wake up. She saved his life,” he said.

Zach suffered some smoke inhalation, and was treated at the hospital and released.

Six fire departments battled the blaze: Courtland, Oakfield, Cedar Springs, Spencer, Sand Lake, and Algoma. Green reported that one firefighter went through the floor, but was ok.

According to Courtland Fire Chief Steve Mojzuk, he went through the ruins with the Michigan State Police Fire investigator. The cause of the fire was undetermined. 

The Webers have been going through the ashes, trying to find mementoes and family treasures. Brian said that Melissa found 80 percent of their photos, including their wedding photos, that didn’t burn. He found part of his grandfather’s Civil War gun. But what he is most glad about is that his family is alive. “The rest of it is all just stuff,” he said.

In the days following the fire, people from the community have come forward to help the Webers start to get back on their feet. “This is so humbling. They say it’s easier to give than to receive and it’s true,” said Brian. “We really want to thank The Springs Church, Courtland Oakfield United Methodist Church, and all the friends and community members who have donated to us; and Deputy Fire Chief Galen Green and his crew and all the other firefighters,” said Brian.

The Webers do have insurance and are planning to rebuild. They are currently staying in a home in the area. 

The Post has been collecting donations of clothing, cash, gift cards, and other items for the family. If you have something you’d like to donate, please give us a call at 616-696-3655 or contact us via Facebook messenger and we will check to let you know if it’s needed.

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Man takes own life after setting fire to home


 

This pole barn was completely destroyed in a suspicious fire Friday morning, May 18, 2018. Post photo by J. Reed

by Judy Reed

When Paul Schrier visited Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral home last Friday morning, he walked by a man sitting in his vehicle with the window down and gave him a friendly hello. He doesn’t remember if the man responded.

“I may have been the last person to talk to him,” said Schrier.

When he finished his business at the funeral home, Schrier noticed the man was still there in the parking lot as he headed over to Elmwood Cemetery to dig more holes for the Avenue of Flags. About 10 minutes later, Schrier heard a gunshot. When he looked to see what was going on, he saw the flashing lights of police at the funeral home. And then he heard another shot. What Schrier didn’t know was that this was the tragic end of the search for Bruce Bott, the 71-year-old Algoma Township man who had set his house on fire and burned his property earlier that morning, before ending his life in the parking lot of the funeral home.

A fire was set by the homeowner in the basement of this home on Algoma Ave. Post photo by J. Reed.

It started early Friday morning, May 18. According to Algoma Township Fire Chief Troy Guerra, they were toned out at 6:48 a.m. to a structure fire at 12131 Algoma Ave, between 14 and 15 Mile Roads. When they arrived on scene, they found the basement of the home on fire, as well as the pole barn. He said they sent out a second alarm on the pole barn fire to call in more aid. 

Guerra said they didn’t find anyone inside the home.

The fire also spread to a small shed behind the home, which was extinguished. The pole barn was destroyed.

The fire was deemed suspicious, and while firefighters from multiple fire departments battled the blazes, and the Michigan State Police investigated the fire, the Kent County Sheriff Department followed up on information they were given about a contentious divorce, in case the fire was deemed arson. The divorce between Bott and his wife was finalized April 30. So police began to search for Bott.

This shed near the home was also burned in the fire May 18. Post photo by J. Reed.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. the Kent County Sheriff Office received a call from Bliss-Witters & Pike funeral home in the 13000 block of Northland Dr NE. The caller reported a suspicious person who had just arrived at their facility. Dispatchers learned that Bott was sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot after dropping off a last will and testament to the funeral home.

The man was still sitting in his vehicle when officers arrived, but as deputies approached, they saw him shoot himself with a handgun. No shots were fired by responding deputies.

Bott was safely transported to Spectrum Butterworth with life threatening injuries. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., he was pronounced dead by medical staff at Spectrum Butterworth.

There were no injuries to the man’s ex-wife, who was not living at the home at the time of the fire.

 

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Fire destroys Nelson Township home


Fire consumed this Nelson Township home last Friday evening, April 13. Photo from Bruce Duncan.

By Judy Reed

An old home at 8147 19 Mile Rd, about ¼ mile east of  Pine Lake Rd, was destroyed in a fire Friday evening, April 13. 

According to Bruce Duncan, who lives nearby at 19 Mile and Pine Lake Rd, the house was under renovation and had recently received a new steel roof and had other repairs done.

“We don’t know how it started, but we were still up when the firefighters started to arrive,” said Duncan. “I walked out to the corner to look and counted 7 fire trucks, 2 ambulances and 2 tanker trucks that were bringing in water from Pine Lake. It was pretty involved by the time the first trucks started to come in. The house on the corner was damaged some from the heat of the fire.”

There wasn’t much left of this home at 8147 19 Mile Rd. Post photo by L. Allen.

Duncan said that years ago the home belonged to a Gladys Hicks, who was his girlfriend’s grandmother. “She remembers visiting and playing in the old house growing up. She was from the Gillespie family and with family ties, it was sad to watch it burn down. There’s a lot of history in that old house. The house on the corner next to it that received some damage was smaller back then and was a tenant house for the field workers,” he explained.

Some of the fire departments on scene included Spencer, Sand Lake, and Cedar Springs Fire Departments. The Post put in a call to Spencer Fire and Sand Lake Fire for some official information, but did not yet have that info by press time. 

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