Belding woman rescued in house fire succumbs to injuries, dies in hospital

Posted by Cory Smith • Last Updated 6:18 pm on Monday, April 08 2013

Firefighters from the Belding Fire Department work to extinguish a fire at 1026 Masonic Ave. in Belding Sunday morning. — Daily News/Cory Smith


Karen Bannen is comforted by her neighbor, Linda Ruble, Sunday morning, as she covers her eyes from the sight of her home which was consumed by fire. — Daily News/Cory Smith

BELDING —A Belding woman who was rescued from a house fire Sunday morning and transported by ambulance to a hospital in Grand Rapids has died from injuries suffered from the fire.

The Belding Fire Department was dispatched at 10:08 a.m. and arrived at 1026 Masonic Ave. in Belding to find the east side of the house covered in smoke.

On arrival, they entered the home and rescued Geraldine Irwin, 71, of Belding on her bed trapped inside on the first floor.

According to Belding Fire Chief Gregg Moore, Irwin was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids by ambulance, where she was pronounced dead after three hours.

“It was just too much,” he said.

Neighbor Linda Ruble was horrified when she walked out of her front door this morning and saw smoke coming from her neighbor’s home across the street, the home of Ryan and Karen Bannen who were caring for the handicapped woman.

“I saw them running around and smoke coming from the house,” Ruble said. “Ryan said he gave her some breakfast, he was just in there, and then all of a sudden the house was on fire. It just went quick.”

Moore said the first priority was to send a crew in and remove the woman as quickly and safely as possible from the home.

“When we got here we had heavy smoke coming out of everywhere of the east side of the house,” Moore said. “The first crew in got into the second room and found the invalid person and managed to bring that person out. They were immediately transported by ambulance to Grand Rapids.”


Moore said the woman suffered some burns, as did Ryan Bannen, who also


cuts on one of his hands.

“Our job, first and foremost, is life saving,” he said. “Knowing that, your whole goal is about getting that person out. Everyone was concentrated on getting that person out. Fortunately we had that option today and our first crew was able to go right inside and get her.”

Ryan Bannen, his wife Karen, and son Matt were all transported to a hospital in Grand Rapids.

Moore said Karen, who arrived from work at the scene after the fire started, and Matt, who was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, did not suffer serious injuries.

Ruble said she was told Matt exited the burning home via an upstairs window.

“Matt was upstairs sleeping and he jumped out the window,” she said.

Moore said the fire started on the first floor of the home, but the cause of the fire is not yet known.

“The fire appears to have originated on the first floor, we don’t know much else than that,” he said. “The second floor took some heat, but very little fire. There is a lot of fire damage on the first floor.”

Moore said he could not yet determine if the house was a total loss.

“It’s going to be one for the insurance company,” he said. “There’s a considerable amount of damage on the first floor. This is right on the line of being a complete loss.”

Moore credited his firefighters for the initial rescue, which he said they were trained for and performed perfectly in a critical situation.

“They were on top of their game today because we’ve been practicing life saving exercises recently,” he said.

The Belding Police Department, Michigan State Police and Life EMS assisted on scene.

Visitation for Irwin is 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Johnson-Feuerstein Funeral Home in Belding.

A graveside service will be 2 p.m. Thursday at Marble Cemetary, southwest of Belding in Keene Township.


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