Crockery Township home destroyed by fire

A lightning strike may have started a fire which destroyed a Crockery Township home early Saturday afternoon. Firefighters from several departments responded to a rural home at 9878 Taft Street just before 2 p.m. when neighbors saw smoke in the area after a storm passed through. "It wouldn't be surprising if it was lightning because we heard a lot of really loud ones (booms),' said neighbor Desiree Whipple. Nobody was home at the time, but a passer-by, who noticed the fire, did save the family cat, Whipple said.
Becky Vargo
Aug 21, 2011

“They got our cat out,” said homeowner Bob Kary. “Someone took a barbell and knocked out the window and got the cat out.”

Kary said that was pretty amazing because the cat normally hides in the basement when there was a storm.

Kary and his wife, Theresa, had gone to visit friend at a cottage on the Muskegon River and were not aware of the fire until they received cell phone calls about it. Their older son, Kyle, was gone to college; while their younger son, Tyler, was away at a camp.

“We were going tubing, but the storm came up on the river, so we didn’t go,” Kary said. “Luckily, someone had to go to the truck to get a towel and the phones were ringing all over the place.”

The messages were from Bob’s brother, Chris Kary, who lives about a mile away.

“We were coming back from Grand Haven and saw the smoke and the fire trucks,” Chris said.

“We were worried it was our house,” Cheryl added.

By the time they arrived on the scene, the house “was really going,” Chris said.

Neighbor Chuck Hecksel, who lives just down the road, said the area has so many trees that they didn’t realize there was a fire until his mother came over and said her telephone was out, and that the neighbor’s house was on fire.

Joann Hecksel said her granddaughter, Tiffany, saw the fire first. They went to use the phone, but discovered it was not working. That’s when they went to Chuck’s house.

Chuck said he went over to the house right away, saw a lot of smoke and a “little bit of flames.

"It was all black inside,” he said. “There was a big boom right before that."

Firefighters arriving on the scene immediately went into a defensive mode — fighting the fire from the outside, said Crockery Township Fire Chief Gary Dreyer. They also immediately called for assistance from several area departments, “because of the delay in notification and because of extensive heat,” he said.

Firefighters attacked the blaze in shifts, because of the extent of the fire and the muggy heat left by the storm. Several tanker trucks shuttled water from the Crockery fire station on 112th Avenue to some portable tanks set up on the road in front of the house. The water was pumped to engines and then sprayed onto the house.

The majority of the fire was out at 2:45 p.m.; but many of the firefighters stayed on the scene, putting out hot spots, pulling the burned structure apart, and then spraying the house with foam to prevent a rekindle.

The fire departments cleared the scene as the afternoon continued. Crockery firefighters cleared at 7:22 p.m.

“This is all I’ve got,” said Kary as he pointed to his tank top and shorts. He noted that the American Red Cross was responding to the scene and would be providing them with clothes and lodging.

Kary said the home had been built about 70 years ago by his father, John Kary, now 92, who lives next door. Bob and Theresa have lived there for the last 21 years.

Kary said he’s the house is insured, and he was glad that everybody was safe.

“But it’s tough to see your home of so many years be no more,” he said.

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