Fire destroys pole barn, damages trailer and house

ROBINSON TOWNSHIP - Damage was estimated at close to $200,000 in a fire this morning that destroyed a pole barn, and damaged a house trailer and a nearby residence. Nobody was injured and "most of the cats were accounted for,' said Robinson Township Fire Chief Paul VanVelzen. The fire chief said the preliminary investigation leads him to believe the cause was electrical.
Becky Vargo
Mar 25, 2011

“I woke up to my barn on fire,” said property owner Matt Magdic, while firefighters from several departments continued to dump water on hots spots around the 30-by-40-foot structure.

Magdic lives at the end of a long private road, 12905 Magdic Drive, off 128th Avenue. He said he was actually awakened by his friends who are living in the house trailer right behind the barn.

Scott Colegrove, who lives in the trailer with his fiancé, Amy Talsma, said he woke up to a big roar. He went outside, saw the barn was on fire, then yelled at Talsma to go tell Magdic while he got their pets rounded up.

VanVelzen said they were called to the fire at 8:41 a.m. and the barn was half-gone when they arrived.

“Our first attack was on the trailer behind the barn,” the chief said, “so that left the barn to go.”

VanVelzen said the fire was so hot that it melted the siding on the house across the yard. But, because they were concentrating on saving the house trailer, lawn chairs between the trailer and the barn were not melted. Still, there was some minimal damage to that structure, he said.

Colegrove said he was living in the trailer temporarily, “until we get back on our feet and can get our own place.”

A pickup truck he uses for plowing in the winter was inside the barn. “I just took off the insurance,” Colegrove said.

VanVelzen said the homeowner’s barn insurance should still cover that vehicle — as well as the other truck, snowmobile, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, tools and other items in the barn.

“Most things are all insured,” he said.

“There’s a lot of sentimental stuff from my grandmother stored in there,” Magdic said.

A friend, Dan Massetti, who owns the motorcycle, said he also had a valuable collectible book in one of the drawers in the barn.

Several vehicles parked around the side of the barn were also damaged, VanVelzen said.

The fire, which appears to have started in the northeast corner of the building, was knocked down in about 25 minutes, according to VanVelzen. At 11:30 a.m., firefighters were still putting out hot spots, and VanVelzen expected they would be on the scene doing clean-up for another hour.

In the meantime, VanVelzen said the homeowner was setting up a generator so he had power until a new pole and service could be installed on the property. The electric service went from a pole into the barn, then ran underground to the house, VanVelzen said.

The fire chief said he would be meeting with insurance investigators at the scene later this afternoon. Assisting Robinson Township at the scene were the fire departments from Grand Haven, Allendale and Olive townships; North Ottawa Community Hospital ambulance; and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

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