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Tag Archive | "fire"

Barn behind Harvard tavern goes up in flames


Firefighters fought a barn fire behind Harvard Tavern Friday morning. Post photo by J. Reed.

The steel barn behind the Harvard Tavern, 12607 Harvard Avenue, in Oakfield Township, was reduced to a heap of rubble Friday morning, after a fire broke out between 10:30 and 11:45 a.m.

According to Oakfield Fire Chief Don Riker, a construction crew was demolishing the north end of the building with a set of torches when the insulation caught on fire. “It was windy and the wind just fanned the flames, causing it to spread,” explained Riker.

There were no injuries.

Oakfield Fire Department, Courtland Fire Department, and Spencer Fire Department all responded to the fire.

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ATF investigating Nelson Speed Shop fire


Estimated losses at Nelson’s exceed $5 million.
Post photo by L. Allen.

The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been activated by request from the Michigan State Police to investigate a fire at the Nelson’s Speed Shop, 4566 South Greenville Road, in Greenville.

A fire was reported to the Montcalm Township Fire Department last Friday, June 22, at approximately 1:30 a.m. Montcalm Fire reported heavy flames through the roof of the structure upon arrival. The Greenville Daily News reported that 11 fire departments and about 75 firefighters fought the blaze and cleared the scene 10-12 hours later.

The fire reportedly started in the back of the business, where fuel and oil was stored. The structure and contents are a total loss. The structure occupies approximately 50,000 square feet and the total estimated loss exceeds $5,000,000.

Nelson’s Speed Shop in flames last Friday morning.
Photo courtesy WOODTV.

“ATF will utilize all resources available and necessary to help determine the cause of this fire,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Arron Graves. “Our activation of the NRT speaks to the seriousness of which we hold this fire. ATF along with our partners will work tirelessly to determine the cause of this fire.” This is the 10th activation of the NRT in Fiscal Year 2012 and number 731 since the inception of the team in 1978. The NRT includes 20 team members and arrived on scene on Monday, June 25.

ATF is investigating this fire jointly with the Michigan State Police, the Greenville Department of Public Safety, the Montcalm Township Fire Department and the Montcalm County Sheriff Department. In addition to ATF NRT members, ATF is utilizing special agent investigators from the ATF Grand Rapids office as well as special agents from the Detroit Field Division.
Nelson’s was also destroyed in a fire in 2001. Two men were convicted of arson in that fire, and a third with having knowledge of it and failing to report it.

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Fire causes damage to kitchen


Smoke came from roof on the left side of the porch. Post photo by J. Reed.

A Cedar Springs man came home last Thursday, June 21, to see smoke rolling out of his roof.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department responded to the call at 40 W. Cherry Street, across the street from the library, about 11:29 a.m. Smoke was coming out of the eaves around the kitchen area of the two-story home.

According to Fire Chief Marty Fraser, the fire started in the attic or ceiling over the kitchen area, around a light fixture in the ceiling. He said the actual cause of the fire was undetermined.

Fraser said there was minimal structure damage, but a lot of cosmetic damage because they had to pull down the ceiling to get to it.

No one was injured in the fire, and there were no animals in the home at the time.

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Countertop business goes up in flames


By Judy Reed

Six fire departments worked together Saturday night to put out a fire at a Solon Township business.
The Solon Fire Department got the call at 7:04 p.m. January 21 that Quality Formica, 2396 17 Mile Road, at the southwest corner of 17 Mile and Algoma (across from Huck’s Corners),  was on fire.
According to Solon Fire Chief Joyce VanderMey, the fire started after someone had been doing some soddering on a copper water pipe earlier in the day. She said it was in a back room, close to the ceiling, and fire got into an attic space.
Algoma and Sand Lake Fire Departments were called for their tankers, Kent City was on full assignment, Cedar Springs was called for pump help, and Rockford was called in for their ladder truck.
Vandermey said they cleared the scene about 12:36 a.m. “We did a lot of salvaging and hauling out brand new stuff they had just purchased while we were fighting the fire,” she explained. Two vans and hi-lo were included in that. “We tried to save as much equipment for them as we could.”
The extreme cold and ice on the ground made it harder for firefighters to get around, but no one was injured.
The two-year-old business specializes in sales and installation of Formica countertops for both homeowners and businesses. The owner says he plans to rebuild.

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Couple saved from burning house


A Greenville couple was rescued from their home last week after it caught fire.
According to the Greenville Department of Safety, Officers Casey Huber and Eric Hoig responded to a fire last Thursday, about 5:55 a.m., at 313 E. Cass St. in Greenville. An 83-year-old woman at the residence told Huber there was also a 65-year-old man in a second floor bedroom. Officer Huber attempted to go upstairs, but was prevented by heavy smoke and fire. He called out to the man, who said he needed help and could not get out.
Huber took the woman out of the home, and when the fire engine arrived, grabbed a ladder and placed it on the roof near the bedroom window where the man was trapped. He then climbed the ladder and tried to make contact with the man, and clearly saw flames in the bedroom.
Officer Hoig entered the house and yelled to the man to go toward Officer Huber, who was at the bedroom window. Huber then reached through the window and pulled the man to safety. He and Fireman Tom Miller brought the man down the ladder. The man was treated by Montcalm County EMS and transported first to Spectrum Health United and later to a Grand Rapids area hospital.
Greenville Public Safety Officers were able to extinguish the fire, which appears to have started on the second floor. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Greenville was assisted by the Belding Fire Department.

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Christmas day fire leaves family homeless


This Sand Lake area home caught fire Christmas day.

An Ensley Township family is now staying with relatives after their home caught fire Christmas Day.
According to Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander, the fire broke out about 3:30 p.m., Sunday, December 25. He said the family was playing cards at their home, located at 12905 S. Elm Street, in Ensley Township, when the dog started barking. When someone went to see why the dog was barking, the person discovered the fire in the breezeway, which was between the garage and the house. All five people at home at the time got out safely.
“It may have been caused by Christmas lights in the breezeway,” said Holtzlander, “but we won’t know for sure until the fire investigator comes out to look at it this week.”
Both Cedar Springs and Grant Fire Departments assisted Sand Lake at the scene. Holtzlander said they had the fire knocked down within about a half hour and cleared the scene a little after 6 p.m.
Holtzlander said that home would likely be a total loss, but that probably 95 percent of the family’s belongings were salvageable. “We had enough help on scene that we were able to move their belongings to the west side of the house,” he explained.
While the whole house didn’t burn down, the kitchen area by the breezeway was damaged, the fire got into the attic, and the trusses were charred. The house also had smoke damage.
The house, which belongs to Don Vandenberg, is reportedly insured.

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Sand Lake business catches fire


A fire at Sand Lake Foods was quickly extinguished last weekend. Post photo by B. Fitzgerald.

A potential disaster in the downtown business district of Sand Lake was averted last weekend due to an observant customer.
According to Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander, a customer was leaving Sand Lake Foods, 59 W. Lake Street, in Sand Lake, when he thought he smelled smoke. He looked up, and saw some smoke and flame coming from the roof, and ran back in and told the person working, and they grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran back out to try to extinguish the fire.
When Sand Lake Fire arrived a few short minutes later, there were still some flames between the roof and overhang that were quickly extinguished. Cedar Springs Fire had been called to assist, but were sent back home since the fire was out. Holtzlander said they were called as a precaution. “With all the buildings attached the way they are, it could have been a lot worse,” he remarked.
Holtzlander said the fire was probably electrical, and started in some of the lighting over the porch. “A bird may have shorted it out,” he said.

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Woman arrested for arson


Tasha Fisher

The fire was already out when the Cedar Springs Fire Department responded to the scene at 13360 Darcy Circle. It turned out that the fire was intentionally set.

A Cedar Springs woman was arrested over the weekend for the arson of mobile home fire early last week.
The Cedar Springs Fire Department responded to the scene of a mobile home fire on Monday September 12, about 3:05 p.m., at 13360 Darcy Circle, in Northland Estates Mobile Home Park, near Northland Drive and 16 Mile Road.
Cedar Springs police officer Sgt. Ed Good investigated and learned that a maintenance worker for the mobile home park noticed smoke coming from inside the home and extinguished the fire with a power washer before the fire department arrived. The fire was contained to a small area of one room, within the mobile home.
The fire investigation indicated that the cause of fire and location within the mobile home appeared suspicious.  The scene was secured and an arson investigator, Sgt. Stormzand, with the Michigan State Police, assisted. His initial findings indicated a liquid accelerant was involved.
The investigation resulted in the arrest of Tasha Anika-Juanita Fisher, 25, of Cedar Springs, who had recently been evicted from the home through a court action. She was arrested on Sunday, September 18, and arraigned in 63rd District Court for arson of a dwelling, a 20-year felony. She received a $4,000 cash/surety bond and her preliminary exam was set for September 29 at 2:15 p.m.

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Man arrested for mobile home fire


Brent Robert Koelsch has been charged with arson and home invasion for setting fire to a mobile home in Cedar Springs last year.

A former Cannon Township resident has been charged with setting the fire that destroyed a mobile home at Cedar Springs Mobile Estates last summer.

According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, the fire broke out about midnight June 26, 2010, at 368 Allan Street. Witnesses said a man arrived at the mobile home just before midnight, reportedly yelling and kicking in the door. Soon after, the man exited the mobile home and fled. Witnesses saw flames shortly after and called the fire department.

No one was home at the time of the fire.

The 14 X 70 1992 Patriot mobile home was a total loss.  State Police Fire Investigator Gregory J. Stormzand assisted Cedar Springs PD with the fire investigation, and confirmed it was arson.

Upon investigation, police found that the owner, a 38-year-old Cedar Springs man, had a brief encounter with a person earlier in the night, who he felt had broken into his home and started the fire. After reviewing evidence, the prosecutor issued a two-count warrant for Brent Robert Koelisch, 40, of Cannon Township. Investigators were told he left the state within days of the fire.

On Tuesday, August 30, the Cedar Springs Police were notified that Koelisch had been picked up on a traffic stop by the Ottawa County Sheriff Department and was being held in the Ottawa County jail on the two warrants.

Koelish was transferred to the Kent County Jail and arraigned on Wednesday, August 31 in 63rd District Court on one count of arson of a dwelling, and one count of home invasion. He was given a $50,000 cash/surety bond. He posted bond and was released pending a preliminary exam on September 12 at 10 a.m.

 

 

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Police release cause of death in Greene murders


By Judy Reed

The Montcalm County Sheriff Department confirmed at a news conference last week that Michael and Kathleen Greene, of Pierson, were stabbed to death in their Whitefish Lake home before it was set on fire October 28.
Police are seeking the help of the public in bringing the killer or killers to justice.
“We remain absolutely committed to solving this crime and are continuing to pursue new leads and reexamine evidence,” said Montcalm Sheriff Bill Barnwell. “We have enlisted the aid of the Michigan State Police, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
The bodies of Michael Thomas Greene, 59, and his wife, Kathleen Marie Greene, 56, were found in the basement of their smoldering residence Thursday evening, October 28, at 3063 Shorecrest Drive, on Big Whitefish Lake, in Pierson Township. The Howard City Fire Department and Montcalm County EMS responded to the scene about 11:18 p.m. on a fire call and reported finding the two bodies inside the house.
Sheriff Barnwell said that cause of death for the couple was multiple stab wounds, and that evidence showed that Michael Greene bravely resisted or fought with his attacker prior to succumbing to his wounds.
The four-bedroom, 20-year-old lakefront home was for sale for $625,000. The couple had spent the days prior to the murders getting ready for sale of their home and the majority of their possessions. “They had been planning on downsizing their lives in order to pursue their new career of grandparenting,” explained Barnwell.
Some eyewitnesses reported a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of the Greene’s home that night, and police have issued a composite drawing of the suspect. Barnwell said the killer brought a lot of violence to the crime scene, and they expect that he is explosively violent in his personal life as well. There is evidence that he took a large quantity of cash and prescription medication before setting the home on fire and escaping. He may have had to explain a cut or injury to his hands the next day.
Barnwell said there is also evidence that a second person may have been present when the killer entered the Greene’s home. “It is to that other person that we would like to speak,” said Barnwell. “We are offering this second person a chance to come clean and remove this burden and fear from your conscience and mind, remove yourself from harm’s way, and help end the killer’s victimization of others. We understand you may fear your involvement that night could expose you to punishment; your coming forward will go a long way in positively determining your future life. No one should live in fear or danger from this killer. No family should ever have to lose their grandparents at his hands again.”
The police are also asking the public to come forward with any info they have, even if they think it may have been reported already. “It may be the case that someone encountered the killer around the time of the crime and thought his behavior odd or frightening. Someone may have heard an unusual conversation about the murder,” said Barnwell. If you have information, contact Det/Sgt Goerge at (989) 831-7590, ext. 7516 or the Sheriff’s Office tip line at (989) 831-593.
There are rewards for information leading to the arrest and bind over or conviction of the parties involved in the crime. The Michigan Arson Prevention Committee has up to a $5,000  reward for tips to them and may be contacted at 800-44-ARSON (800-442-7766). Silent Observer also offers up to $1,000 and may be contacted at (866) 774-2345, or you can report a crime on their website at silentobserver.org. You can also text Silent Observer a tip. Text “Tip138” plus your message to CRIMES (274637). The keyword TIP138 must appear on the first line of your text message in order to reach Silent Observer.
To see the complete news release from the Montcalm County Sheriff Department, visit http://www.montcalm.org/sheriff.asp and click on “News Releases” under the subheading Sheriff/Undersheriff.

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