CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — A husband and wife, their two adopted great-grandchildren and two pets, a dog and cat, safely escaped a house fire this afternoon that destroyed the majority of their home.
Firefighters from the Crystal Township Fire Department were dispatched at 4:16 p.m. Thursday to a structure fire at 1101 S. Crystal road.
On arrival, mutual aid was immediately requested for additional tankers and more manpower as Assistant Fire Chief Scott Brundage said flames were already shooting up the backside of the home.
“The first truck on scene, they saw the fire on the back side of the house going right up the side and onto the roof,” he said. “We called in extra manpower and tankers. We were a little shorthanded, that, and it’s very cold.”
With the wind chill, temperatures were well below zero as firefighters from five departments did everything they could to stay warm while extinguishing the fire and attempting to salvage everything they could from within the home.
The Carson City, Richland Township, Stanton Community and Sheridan Community fire departments all responded along with Crystal Township.
Brundage said on scene that a wood stove on the back porch of the home was likely the cause of the fire and it is not considered to be suspicious.
“I couldn’t tell you if it’s a total loss, but with the roof collapsing like this, I can’t imagine them rebuilding,” he said. “We got here pretty quickly, but (the fire) was pretty well into the house when we got here.”
According to resident Ed Clark, he began shoveling snow off of his back porch when he noticed the wood burner was smoking more than usual.
Before long, flames from the burner began to spread into the home.
“I wouldn’t have guessed this would happened in a million years,” Clark said.
Clark said he began shoveling the snow onto the wood burner, hoping to to extinguish the flames, but was unsuccessful.
“I’m an old man, I can only move so fast, and it wasn’t fast enough,” he said.
When that failed, he told his wife Ruth to call 911, grab their two adopted great-grandchildren, John and Faith, ages 10 and 12, and exit the home.
Everyone made it out of the home safely, including the family dog, Bella.
Clark watched his home burn while sitting in his truck in the driveway and feared he had lost his pet cat Kelly.
However, Stanton Community Firefighter Tyler Peterman emerged from the home, carrying a frightened and wet Kelly in his arms.
“She’s a survivor, she made it,” Clark said of his cat. “We all made it out OK, that’s what’s important.”
Clark said he and his wife, who are retired, have been renting the home for seven years and did not have insurance.
“We’ll stay temporarily at my daughter’s place,” he said.
Clark’s daughter, Melanie Brume, said she is hoping a few donations may come forward for the family.
“They have nothing, they lost everything,” she said. “Maybe people could drop some things off at the fire station.”
The Crystal Township Fire Station is located at 8356 E. Colby road in Crystal Township.
Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services assisted on scene.