May 20 • 12:12 PM

18-year-old girl alerts family of fire in home

Residence sustains heavy smoke, water damage

Firefighters from Goodland, Almont and Atttica townships all assisted Imlay City at a January 17 house fire on N. Van Dyke Rd. photo by Randy Jorgensen.

January 25, 2017
IMLAY TWP. — A house fire at 588 N. Van Dyke Rd. Tuesday (Jan. 17) morning might have turned deadly had it not been for the quick action of a young occupant.

Imlay City Asst. Fire Chief Andy Kustowski credited the homeowner's 18-year-old daughter with first noticing the fire and alerting others in the home.

Kustowski said Imlay City and Goodland Twp. firefighters were dispatched to the fire at around 7:51 a.m. and joined later by fire units from Almont and Attica townships.

When firefighters arrived at the scene they found an upstairs bedroom in the northeast corner of the home on fire.

Though they were able to extinguish the flames, the residence and contents sustained significant smoke and water damage.

Kustowski said firefighting efforts were initially hampered by icy conditions both on roads and at the fire site.

"The ice on the roads and around the home made efforts to control the fire difficult," Kustowski said. "Firefighters were slipping and sliding across the ice in the front yard while trying to reach the front door of the home."

Kustowski noted that firefighters did their best to protect the residents' belongings by covering them with tarps, and were able to save several birds and rabbits from the home.

"Firefighters from all departments did a fantastic job today," said Kustowski.

He stressed again the importance of the 18-year-old girl's immediate response, which potentially may have saved the structure and lives.

"It was the young lady's quick thinking and alerting the the rest of the people in the home," said Kustowski. "She is likely responsible for preventing this fire from having been much worse."

Kustowski said the home did have functioning smoke alarms, adding that alarms should be placed in all bedrooms to ensure the best possible outcome in the event of a fire.

He said both the cause and origin of the fire are still unknown pending further investigation.

Kustowski said there were three adults and three children living in the home.

Representatives from Lapeer County Red Cross were able to find temporary housing for the home's occupants at the Imlay City Days Inn.

On Thursday, Imlay City Police Officer Joe Deluca arranged to take the displaced residents to the Imlay City Shopko, where they were able to acquire new clothing and other necessities. Shopko donated $250 to the cause.

In addition to the four local fire departments, other emergency units responding to the fire included: Imlay City Police, Michigan State Police, local Red Cross and the Lapeer County Road Commission.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
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