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Fire lights up treetops


Terrain challenges firefighters, blaze destroys log cabin home


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Michigan State fire inspectors will investigate the cause of the blaze that destroyed this stone and timber home off Van Dyke late Thursday.

November 19, 2008
IMLAY TWP. — Firefighters from four departments battled a wind-aided fire late Thursday that destroyed a vacant home on a private road off M-53, south of the I-69 freeway.

Imlay City Fire Chief Kip Reaves said firefighters responded around 10:25 p.m., after receiving multiple 911 calls reporting the fire.

Reaves said the house, located at 2355 S. Van Dyke, stood a long distance from the road and was surrounded by pine trees, further complicating firefighters' efforts.

"The trees and ground cover were also burning," said Reaves. "The house was built of stone and heavy timber and it looked like a forest fire from I-69.

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"Not only did the firefighters have flames in front of and beside them," Reaves continued, "the tall pine trees kept igniting about 25-30 feet in the canopy above them."

Reaves said water tankers had to be shuttled in and out of the fire scene, creating ingress and egress problems for emergency personnel.

"The firefighters had to walk some of the equipment in and lay hose from Van Dyke to the pumper," he said. "They attacked the fire from all four sides, which was difficult due to the topography of the area."

Mutual aid was provided by firefighters from the Almont, Attica and Goodland township fire departments, many of whom were not able to clear the scene until after 3 a.m. on Friday.

After the fire was finally extinguished, firefighters were presented with yet another challenge.

"When it was all over," said Reaves, "all that hose and equipment had to be picked up and carried back out, cleaned up and put back in emergency-ready service."

Also on hand were Imlay City police, Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies and Michigan State Police troopers, all of whom provided traffic control during the incident. At one point, M-53 had to be shut down.

Reaves said the cause of the blaze has yet to be determined, adding that a Michigan State Police investigator has been summoned to conduct an investigation. He said the homeowners were reportedly out of state.

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