May 23 • 11:37 AM

Fire rips through home

Electrical receptacle suspected of sparking blaze

What’s left of Galbraith family’s Antler Drive home and Jeep Wagoneer which were destroyed by fire last Wednesday. photo by Imlay City Fire Dept..

May 05, 2010
GOODLAND TWP. — A family is without a home after fire claimed their Antler Trail residence early Wednesday evening.

Fire Chief Don Bissett says firefighters were called to the scene around 5:10 p.m. on a report of a fire in the kitchen area of the home.

The call was made by Hunter Galbraith, 12, who'd been inside the home when he smelled smoke, Bissett says.

"He saw smoke in the kitchen and went outside," Bissett says.

Rick Horton, Imlay City's Assistant Fire Chief, was first to arrive on the scene, Bissett says. Even with the short response, the home was fully involved in fire and Horton called for backup from Brown City and Arcadia.

Bissett says he knew the fire was burning vigorously when he left his job at Champion Bus and noticed thick black smoke in the sky.

"There was a tower of black smoke and I knew it was more than just a kitchen fire," he says.

A witness at the scene says firefighters were at a disadvantage from the get go because the fire devoured the home so quickly.

"I saw smoke coming out of the house and then everything was on fire," he says. "The fire department didn't even have a chance. The home was already gone."

Bissett says flames ripped through the double wide manufactured home, fanned in part by steady west winds.

Debris from the burning structure blew over to another home about 400 feet to the east and sparked a small blaze under the rear deck and back of the home.

Bissett says woodchips under the deck ignited and the deck and siding were beginning to burn.

Fortunately, longtime Arcadia Township firefighter Ray Swain noticed the problem before major damage was done.

"Ray (Swain) got on the radio and said it looks like we had another fire to the east," Bissett says. "There was minimal damage to the deck and structure."

Bissett says it appears the fire began in an electrical receptacle in the kitchen. He says the 2 x 4 stud that the receptacle was mounted on contained an eight inch section that was completely burned through.

Bissett credits the 12-year-old Hunter for acting quickly to call 911 and run out of the home.

"He did a good job and he had good recall which helped us," Bissett says.

Hunter's dad, Robert, was less than a mile away and could see the smoke rising the sky. His mom, Patricia, was in Imlay City picking up some food for daughter Peyton, 8, who was at practice at Extreme Dance & Cheer studio. Ten-year-old Noah was away from home as well.

Red Cross disaster relief volunteers were called in, Bissett adds, and helped the family find temporary housing.

The home is considered a total loss. For more on this story, see related sidebar.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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