Fenwick house fire ruled arson, $5,000 reward offered

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 11:41 am on Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sheridan Fire Chief Ed Lingeman, left, talks with Michigan State Fire Marshal Trever Slater on Monday about Friday’s fire at 1680 W. Boyer Road in Fairplain Township. Slater has ruled the fire an arson. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

FAIRPLAIN TOWNSHIP — The cause of a Friday morning fire that was being investigated as “suspicious’”has now been ruled arson.

State Fire Marshal Trever Slater investigated the scene on Monday and determined the fire was set on purpose, three days after the fire at 1680 W. Boyer Road.

“I am calling it an arson,” Slater said.

Slater said he reached that conclusion after taking in consideration all reasons that could have started the fire.

“I have ruled out all the possibilities for accidental causes,” he said. “That only leaves me with one thing — arson.”

Firefighters from Sheridan,  Greenville and Ronald Township responded to a report of a fire at Garret and Mary DeGram’s residence at 8:47 a.m. Friday.

The house was in the midst of being remodeled by the DeGrams, who lost everything in a previous house fire early on the morning of Jan. 21. The cause of that fire was undetermined, but was thought to be electrical.

The DeGrams were staying in an addition built onto their garage while re-constructing their house. The garage sustained minor damage in Friday’s fire.

Sheridan Fire Chief Ed Lingeman called the fire “suspicious” on Friday because of the number of fires the DeGrams have had, including two or three fires at a house on Derby Road in addition to the two fires at the house on Boyer Road.

The DeGrams said they were not home at the time of the fire because they felt threatened and thought “something was going to happen.” Mary DeGram said her family had received threats over a dispute they were having with people from out of town. She said suspicious events had taken place Thursday night near their home.

“I was scared,” she told The Daily News. “I thought something was going to happen, so I took my dogs and went to my daughter’s house in Greenville. I think someone intentionally did it.”

“I think we have an enemy,” Garret DeGram added. “I do want this fully investigated.”

When Slater was asked if the homeowners had been ruled out as the ones who set the fire, he said he was unable to comment.

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the fire.

Anyone with information is asked to call the fire marshal’s office at (616) 866-6680 or the Michigan State Police at (989) 352-8444.

Michigan State Fire Marshal Trever Slater hangs a wanted sign on the property of 1680 W. Boyer Road on Monday after ruling Friday’s fire an arson. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

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