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Tag Archive | "fire"

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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Fire ravages Solon Township home



By Judy Reed

A Solon Township home went up in flames last Friday morning after a fire rekindled from the night before.

Firefighters were first called to the scene on Ja De Drive, north off of 16 Mile, and west of Algoma, about 4 p.m. Thursday, March 24. Solon, Cedar Springs and Algoma Fire departments knocked down the fire pretty quickly and cleared the scene by 10 p.m.  According to Solon Township Deputy Fire Chief Brian VanderLaan, they had made a good save on the structure, with it mainly suffering heavy smoke damage.

“We spent hours double checking to make sure it was completely out,” noted VanderLaan. “I even crawled through the attic.”

Fire departments were called back to the scene about 5:45 a.m. Friday morning, March 25. “It was fully involved when we got here,” said VanderLaan.

Solon, Algoma, Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, and Kent City Fire all fought the blaze, and Rockford brought in their aerial trucks so they could douse the flames from the top. Most of the firefighters had cleared the scene by 11 a.m.

The family was not home at the time of the fires, and no one was injured. VanderLaan said that the fire appeared to originate in the basement, but the cause was still under investigation.

He explained that you never know where a spark might linger, and that’s why they spent hours the night before making sure the fire was out.  “This is what I didn’t want to happen last night,” he said while looking at the burned out house. “We did everything in our power we could have done.”

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Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Get out of the house!

Last week we had a fire in our home. Our aged heat pump flashed out, blowing smoke throughout the house, tripping alarms and setting off smoke detectors. Thankfully, it turned out to be a minor inconvenience. But at first, we didn’t know this. We had smoke in the house and could not find the source. So I called 911 and explained our situation: “Everything looks okay now, but could you send someone just to take a look?” The dispatcher sent someone all right. In five minutes we had a dozen fire-fighters, six fire trucks, and a battalion chief standing in the front yard.

Everyone involved was consummately thorough, especially the dispatcher. She did not care that everything “looked okay.” Minor event or four-alarm fire, her instructions were direct and clear: “Get out of the house!” I protested several times stating that it was cold outside and we were safe. She continued to answer: “Get out of the house,” growing more forceful each time until finally I relented and did as I was told.

That dispatcher would make a wonderful preacher. See, the best sermons are not the ones that reinforce our comfort or our long-held beliefs, causing us to rest well in pews. The best sermons are those that cause us to get up and run from the sanctuary. The best sermons say directly and clearly: “Get out of the house!”

I cut my theological teeth in a tradition fixated with defending the Bible. We worked hard to protect the always-under-siege Scriptures. Thus, I heard much high oratory on the inspiration, infallibility, incorrigibility, and inerrancy of the Bible. This was an almost weekly subject. In short, I heard a whole lot about the Bible, but didn’t get much help in how to live the Bible.

But we need less information about the Bible coming from inside the church house, and need more real-world, life-giving ways to put the Bible into practice outside the church house. We need to practice some of the oldest words from the New Testament: “Don’t just listen to the Word. Do what it says.”

No, the proof of truth is not how often we use the correct theological buzzwords or how long we sit and listen inside our houses of worship. The proof of truth is the practice of God’s grace and burning love out in the communities around us. Get out of the house.

Ronnie McBrayer is the author of “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus.” He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

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Home destroyed in fire


A Solon Township family lost their home Monday when fire ripped through this home in White Creek Country Estates.

Two children managed to escape before a fire consumed their mobile home Monday in White Creek County Estates in Solon Township.

Cedar Springs Public Schools did not have school Monday (it was mid-winter break), and a 14-year-old girl was home with her three-year-old sister when she heard the smoke alarm go off. She said the fire started somewhere in the kitchen.

The call came in just after noon, and Solon Township responded with Cedar Springs Fire Department assisting at the scene. The fire spread quickly through the home of Troy Kaltenberg, located on Chestnut Drive. Kaltenberg was at work at the time.

Post photo by J. Reed.

“I was standing out here just a half hour ago and didn’t see anything,” said a neighbor, Richard Pawson. “Those old trailers go up fast.”

There were no injuries, but the two children were treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation and released.

Solon Fire Chief Joyce Vandermey confirmed that the fire did start in the kitchen near the toaster, but the reason was unknown. Vandermey said they were on the scene until about 5 p.m. investigating the fire, and went back on Tuesday to continue the investigation.

The home is a complete loss, and reportedly was not insured.

According to park owner Russ Eldred, this was only the second fire since he built the park in 1971.

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Home destroyed in fire


A Solon Township family lost their home today when fire ripped through this home in White Creek Country Estates. Post photo by J. Reed

Two children managed to escape before a fire consumed their mobile home earlier today in White Creek County Estates in Solon Township.

Cedar Springs Public Schools did not have school today, and a 14-year-old girl was home with her three-year-old sister when she heard the smoke alarm go off. She said the fire started somewhere in the kitchen.

The call came in just after noon, and both Solon Township and Cedar Springs Fire Departments responded to the call. The fire spread quickly through the home of Troy Kaltenberg, located on Chestnut Drive. Kaltenberg was at work at the time.

“I was standing out here just a half hour ago and didn’t see anything,” said a neighbor, Richard Pawson. “Those old trailers go up fast.”

The home is a complete loss, and reportedly was not insured.

Photo courtesy of Trina Powell

According to park owner Russ Eldred, this was only the second fire since he built the park in 1971.

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Sand Lake man dies in fire



Firefighters responded to the scene of a tragic house fire on Northland Drive, just south of Sand Lake, Thursday morning, January 20, that killed a man and sent his sister to the hospital.
According to Sgt. Steve Dabkowski, of the Kent County Sheriff Department, the homeowner, Sandra DeVault, 57, came out of her bedroom a little before 7 a.m. to find the living room, where her brother slept, engulfed in flames. She was unable to get him out.
Both Sand Lake and Cedar Springs Fire Departments fought the blaze. Dabkowski said they had initially knocked the fire down, and firefighters were inside, and ambulance workers almost inside, when it caught fire again. The man, William Samalot, 58, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dabkowski said according to DeVault, her brother was on oxygen and often smoked. “That looks to be the probable cause of the fire,” said Dabkowski.
DeVault was taken to Spectrum Butterworth, where she was being treated for smoke inhalation.
The fire is still under investigation.

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Christmas day fire destroys home


This Algoma Township home was destroyed by fire Christmas Day. Post photo by J. Reed.

Christmas Day took a tragic turn for one northern Kent County family after their home was destroyed by fire Saturday evening.

Firefighters responded to the 4100 block of Ives Farm Lane, (a subdivision off White Creek just north of Russell Road) just after 7:14 p.m. When firefighters arrived, it was fully engulfed.

Several fire departments fought the blaze, including Algoma, Courtland, Solon and Cedar Springs, who was set up as a pumping station at the Cedar Springs Middle School.

According to Algoma Fire Captain Roger VanderKlipp, the  family of four (2 adults and two children) got out safely, along with guests they had over at the time. He said that one of the children slept downstairs, and that they were able to get some of his clothing out. Several Christmas presents were also stacked in front of the home in the driveway.

The family was staying with neighbors overnight and the Red Cross had been called in.

According to Algoma Fire Chief Steve Johnson, the fire appears to have started from discarded ashes from a  charcoal grill. The family had grilled the previous day, and the ashes had been stored in the garage, where they ignited. “Ashes can stay hot for three or four days down inside of them,” noted Johnson.

The Post reached the homeowner, Norman Galang, on Monday. He said they are currently staying with family. “Everyone is doing great, and no one was hurt,” he said. “We are in much better spirits now.” The Galangs have a 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.

Anyone interested in helping the Galangs can email Norman at galangn@gmail.com for specific needs.

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Fire ravages home Christmas eve


Post photo by L. Allen

An Oakfield Township family lost everything they owned in a fire on Christmas Eve day, including their dog and two cats.

According to Oakfield Township Fire Chief Don Riker, the call came in about 10 a.m. Friday morning on a fire at 11948 Ramsdell, between 14 and 15 Mile Roads. When firefighters arrived on the scene of the single-wide mobile home, it was fully engulfed. Courtland Fire assisted Oakfield at the scene.

The family who owned the home, Robert and Sarah Joldersma and their three sons, were not home at the time. Robert was next door at his parents’ home with the three boys in the hot tub, and Sarah was reportedly shopping.

Riker said that family alerted Robert to smoke coming from the home. When he rushed back there and opened the door, the home was in flames.

Riker said that the fire was likely caused by a dryer or electrical issue.

While no one was injured in the blaze, the family did lose their pets—a German Shepherd, and their two cats. They also lost their Christmas presents.

A collection for the family has been set up at Zain’s Pary Store, 10030 14 Mile Road, and emails with questions or offers to help can also be sent to Robert’s mother, Krystal at riverqueen@auis.net.

Riker said he was glad to see how the community reached out to help the Joldersma family. “The community stepped up and I’m very happy with what they’ve done,” he remarked. “I think they ended up with a pretty nice Christmas.”

He added that while this fire was a fluke, there are things homeowners can do during the winter to help prevent fires. The Chief noted that everyone should make sure smoke detectors are working, and be sure chimneys are clean. “We are coming into the season when we start seeing chimney fires. We were toned out on a possible chimney fire while fighting this fire,” he said.

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Mobile home destroyed in fire


This home was destroyed by fire last Friday morning.

A mobile home fire last Friday left a Newaygo County family homeless.
Both the Sand Lake and Cedar Springs Fire departments responded to the fire in the 14000 block of Beech Street, just north of 22 Mile Road, about 4:30 a.m. December 20.
According to Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander, the fire started in a room attached to the single-wide home that housed a woodburner. “The homeowner said it was smoking where the chimney went through the roof,” noted the Chief. “That’s where it was burning, and that’s where most of the damage was done, in the two rooms attached at the rear of the home,” he said.
He explained that the family was trying to curb their propane bill by using the woodburner. “A lot of people do it,” he said.
Homeowners Bruce and Rebecca Fisk, and their two children, Casey and Wyatt, made it out safely, but the home was a complete loss. “Between the smoke and heat damage it was totally destroyed,” said Holtzlander.
The home was not insured.
The family is currently living in a transition home and will soon need to look for an alternate place to live. If anyone would like to help the family, please contact the Springs Church at 696-2970.

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Fire guts home


N-FireFive fire departments battled a blaze in the wee hours of Friday morning that consumed a Cedar Springs home.

According to Cedar Springs Fire Chief Jerry Gross, they were dispatched to the scene of the fire at132 S. Grant, at 3:07 a.m. on Friday, September 11 and were on scene at 3:14 a.m. They had it under control by 4 a.m.

According to neighbors, the home belonged to the Hunter family, and Bobby Hunter Jr. was staying there at the time. He was home at the time of the fire, and escaped with minor burns near his left elbow.

Gross said that construction and additions to the home contributed to the difficulty in extinguishing the fire in the attic area. The cause has not been determined, and is still under investigation.

Courtland, Sand Lake, Solon, and Algoma Township Fire Departments all assisted at the scene.

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