Resident Vicki Pearson said she was taking a bath when the smoke alarms sounded in the small, ranch-style home at the west end of Arlington Street.
Her husband, Terry, and their son, Josh, had gone to get some dinner. The family had just returned from a trip, Vicki said.
“I just got out of the tub and put my robe on,” she said. “I saw smoke everywhere. I saw it was coming from the basement.”
Vicki wrapped a towel around her wet hair and fled out the door, running barefoot through the snow in 14-degree weather to her neighbor’s house.
“She came to my front door, banging,” said next-door neighbor Sue Wronski. “She said, ‘My house is on fire.’"
Pearson called her husband and struggled to call 911 as her fingers wouldn't work properly.
Josh said that when he and his dad returned to the house, they opened the side door and saw nothing but smoke. They grabbed a set of keys to the van and slammed the door. Then they moved the van to another driveway and waited for help.
“I have my phone and the keys to the car and that’s it,” Josh said as he watched firefighters work while he stood in the warmth of a neighbor’s house.
The fire was called in at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officers arrived to investigate and found flames in the basement. Called in to assist at the scene were Grand Haven Township, Ferrysburg, and Spring Lake fire departments. The Norton Shores canteen also responded.
Two firefighters were checked for possible injuries after flames flared up through the home and they had to quickly evacuate.
“They attempted to make access through the east door and ran into difficulties accessing the stairs, said GHDPS Director Jeff Hawke. “We had growing fire conditions and had to evacuate.”
As flames blazed out the side, the horns were blasted on the nearest fire truck to alert firefighters that conditions were unsafe and to get out of the house.
One fireman fled out the side door, while another smashed a front window and jumped through, assisted to the ground by other firefighters.
Smoke obscured the view, but firefighters quickly rushed to the aid of the fireman who was down on the side steps.
Paramedics checked both firefighters. Hawke said they did not suffer injuries.
The cause of the fire was not immediately available.
Hawke said damage was extensive.
The fire was prounounced out at 9:22 p.m.