ORLEANS TOWNSHIP— Shivering in the freezing, crisp morning air, with a blanket wrapped tightly around his body and wearing a bright green hat, the one item he was able to recover from his home, Scotty Foote closed his eyes and listened as gun shells continued to pop and echo throughout the surrounding woods as the fire that had just destroyed his home burned away at the last remaining ammunition shells from his bedroom closet.
With the chorus of pops and whistles steadily continuing before him Wednesday morning, the 18-year-old recounted the tragedy that had just occurred only hours earlier.
“I had a fire going in the wood stove last night and noticed it was getting too hot so I shut it down by throwing water on it,” Foote said. “I woke up at about 6 a.m. smelling smoke with alarms going off. When I got up and looked into the wood (storage) room, I saw flames.”
Foote immediately awoke everyone in the house, which included six friends who were visiting for the night. Foote and his friends attempted to put out the fire with a mix of water and soap, but the fire spread too quickly.
“The fire lit right up my closet wall, which is connected to the wood room,” he said. “I looked out onto the patio and into the attic, and flames were just pouring out of the house. At that point the roof started coming down and we ran out of the house.”
Just two and a half miles northeast of Belding at 8989 Johnson Road, The Orleans Township Fire Department was dispatched at 6:07 a.m. to the fire, which Orleans Fire Chief Leslie Doty said was fully involved on arrival.
“When we arrived on scene, the flames were coming out the roof,” Doty said.
At 6:12 a.m., Doty called for mutual aid from the Belding Fire Department, which provided tankers and manpower to help battle the fire.
Doty said there was no way the house could have been saved.
“It’s a total loss, no one is going to be able to live in it again,” he said. “But everyone made it out OK and no one is injured. You can always replace buildings, but you can’t replace people.”
Doty said signs point to the fire being started because of the wood stove, but it was “too early to tell” as of Wednesday morning.
Foote lived in the home with his father, Bob Foote, who owned the building, which was insured.
But Foote, a 2012 Belding High School graduate, said it will take some time to recover from the loss of the only place he has ever called home.
“I was born inside that house,” he said. “My mom gave birth to me on one of those beds and I’ve lived there ever since. What do you do after a moment in life like this? What are you supposed to do when your foundation falls apart?”
Foote said he and his father will be staying at his mother’s house at 2867 W. Bricker Road in Fenwick. Having lost nearly everything in the fire, he said he would gladly accept any help that is offered.
“I had everything in there — that was my life in there,” he said. “I’ve got my hat and my wallet, that’s about all I have left. Anything will help.”
Foote can be reached by phone at his mother’s home at (616) 884-8310.