BY SCOTT SULLIVAN EDITOR
A Saturday morning blaze caused severe damage to an Old Allegan Road home and ended a 15-month stretch of no structure fires in the Saugatuck Township Fire District jurisdiction, reported department IT director Erik Kirchert.
A passer-by spotted a roughly 3-foot diameter fire on the porch but received no response upon trying to alert the home’s occupants, then called 911, said Kirchert. The STFD was dispatched there at 7:05 a.m.
When Chief Greg Janik and engine crew arrived, the fire had spread to engulf the whole southeast corner of the residence. A quick attack with the engine’s high-volume nozzle slowed it for a short time, reported Kirchert.
Firefighters tried to turn off gas to the house, but the meter had melted and gas was now free burning from the supply pipe. Mutual aid arrived from Fennville, Ganges, Graafschap and Hamilton departments.
The fire, said Kirchert, extended rapidly into the interior walls and between the floors from the exterior porch, basically a chimney effect. Consumers Energy arrived to secure a downed power line and Semco Energy Gas Co. shut off the natural gas connection the STFD had let burn as a controlled fire instead of risking an explosion.
Firefighters used a hydrant on the north side of Old Allegan, causing the road to be closed for the duration of their operation. Westbound traffic was diverted to 63rd
Street and eastbound drivers were asked to return to Blue Star.
“By late morning,” said Kirchert, “we were ready for overhaul and mutual aid was released. The next few hours we chased pockets of smoldering fires in the walls, floor and roof separation.
“Finally, at 1:30 p.m. we could say for sure there were no more hot spots. The fire is under investigation.