Dogs dies in fire near Half Mile Lake in Spencer Township

By Daily News • Last Updated 12:06 pm on Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Five fire departments battle a house fire Tuesday night on Half Mile Lake. Russ and Rita Miller escaped with one dog but believe their 7-week-old puppy was lost in the fire. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

By Ryan Jeltema and Kelli Ameling
Daily News staff writers

SPENCER TOWNSHIP — A 7-week-old puppy is dead but the homeowners are safe after fire broke out in a house on the east side of Half Mile Lake.

Five fire departments battled the fire on Jewett Street, which runs off Half Mile Road west of Morgan Mills Avenue in Spencer Township.

Russ Miller said he was sitting in his living room with his wife, Rita, when he noticed black smoke collecting near the ceiling.

Spencer Township Fire Chief Alan Wright said Miller reported the house was filling with smoke around 7:45 p.m. to Kent County Sheriff’s Dispatch. Miller called dispatchers back a few minutes later while firefighters were en route to report smoke coming from his roofline.

The back of the home facing the lake was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived around 7:50 p.m.
Firefighters knocked down most of the fire in less than an hour. They waited for a Consumers Energy crew to cut power to the residence before they could fully extinguish the blaze.

The Millers escaped the home unharmed with one of their dogs, but a 7-week-old puppy in the back of the house likely died in the fire.

The Ridgell family, who lives about 100 feet from the Miller’s house, sprang into action while firefighters worked on extinguishing the blaze.

Ed Ridgell and his children brought out chairs and tables for the firefighters, along with extension cords pulled into their home, lights and flashlights.

The Ridgells set up tables and chairs for the firefighters during the fire at Half Mile Lake. They also brought out drinks, coffee with sugar and milk, along with snacks and cookies. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

His daughter, Rebekah Ridgell, began to make coffee and cookies for them as well.

Her brothers, Brandon, Justin and Cole Ridgell, raced out the door to hand baked goods and coffee to firefighters and place the rest on a table as fast as Rebekah prepared them.

“It feels good to do something,” Brandon Ridgell said. “I wanted to (help) because I couldn’t when the fire started.”

After items became low on the table, the Ridgells dug deeper into their cabinets to provide chips, granola bars and other snacks for the firefighters.

Ed Ridgell said his family wanted to help “for the love of Christ.”

Wright believes the fire may have ignited in the attic, but the investigation into an exact cause still is ongoing.

The Spencer Township, Oakfield Township, Montcalm Township, Maple Valley Township and Algoma Township fire departments all assisted at the scene. Police helped clear traffic after firefighters reported cars impeding their access to the scene.

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