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Residents escape mobile home fire

Becky Vargo • Sep 19, 2017 at 7:36 PM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Fire seriously damaged a home in the Country Estates Mobile Home Park late Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s a total loss,” Spring Lake Township Fire Chief Brian Sipe said.

Firefighters responded at about 3:30 p.m. to a call of flames showing at the home located at 17381 Vancouver Drive. The blaze was coming out the front door when the first firefighters arrived on the scene, Sipe said. The residents had all safely evacuated.

Vancouver is between Quebec and Sarnia streets in the park, which is located at the corner of 148th Avenue and State Road in Spring Lake Township.

Vernon Pierson said he was inside the home with his friend’s 5-year-old son when somebody started banging on the side of the structure.

“They were yelling at me to go out the back door,” Pierson said. “I came out and there was fire underneath the trailer. It came from the front and the side.”

Pierson said he didn’t hear anything unusual and didn’t smell the fire.

It was a maintenance crew working across the street that saw the fire and alerted him. 

“They tried to get it out with a fire extinguisher, but it wouldn’t work,” Pierson said.

The 5-year-old boy’s mother, Mackenzie Davis, was not home at the time. The three residents stood and watched firefighters, well back from the small crowd that gathered to watch and document the fire.

Davis said the burned trailer belonged to Jesse Churchley, who was buying the home on a rent-to-own basis. Davis said that Churchley was arrested a few weeks ago and that she was awaiting an eviction notice.

Court records show Churchley is in the Ottawa County Jail on charges of breaking and entering and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

A woman who said she was Churchley’s ex-girlfriend also watched the fire with sadness. The woman, who is not being named because of the charges against Churchley, said she still had belongings in the home, as well as her cat. She said the current occupants had not allowed her to retrieve her things, and now it was too late.

Firefighters knocked the fire down in about half an hour, Sipe said. They continued to put out hot spots late into the afternoon.

Sipe said that despite some people speculating the cause of the fire as arson, the cause and location of where the fire started are still under investigation.

As of Tuesday night, there was no preliminary damage estimate, the chief said. The home was not insured.

Assisting at the scene were Crockery Township and Ferrysburg firefighters, North Ottawa Community Hospital paramedics, Canteen 450, and Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies.

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