Man, animals rescued from fire

(Full story) Sylvia Fernandez and her brother, Robert Costales, were just getting home from work on Thursday when she saw smoke coming from her neighbor’s house.
Becky Vargo
Jul 25, 2013

 

“We’ve got to get over there,” she said to her brother.

Fernandez knew that her neighbor worked a third shift and saw a car in the driveway at the burning home.

By 2:20 p.m., Ottawa County Central Dispatch had received several reports of a fire at the house at 16977 VanWagoner Road, just east of U.S. 31 in Spring Lake Township.

Costales said he grabbed a garden hose as his sister pounded on the neighbor's door and then ran inside.

Paul Curtis was alone in the home with his dog and cats. His wife, Beth, was at work; and their son was at his grandmother’s house in Muskegon.

Curtis said he had been sleeping for nearly six hours when his neighbors awoke him.

“When I woke up, there wasn’t even any smoke in the house,” he said.

Curtis ran outside and took charge of the garden hose and continued spraying the burning house.

“It was going right up the side of my house,” he said of the fire.

When firefighters arrived moments later, smoke was pouring from the roof's edge.

Curtis gave up the garden hose long enough to retrieve his dog, Puppy, from the house. He said a firefighter told him they scooted three cats out the back door.

Firefighters put out the fire shortly after 3 p.m. VanWagoner Road over U.S. 31, which was blocked for emergency vehicles, was reopened to traffic at about 4:10 p.m.

Curtis said he and his wife had been renting the home for 14 years. They do not have renter’s insurance, he said.

Their landlord, Robyn Vandenberg, said the house is insured.

Fire officials called in the American Red Cross to help the family with lodging and clothing.

The attic and the side of the house next to the back steps sustained the brunt of the fire damage. Capt. Steve Bruneau of the Spring Lake Township Fire Department said there was also smoke and water damage throughout the house.

Bruneau said it appears that the fire started on the outside of the house. He said later that the fire remains under investigation and the value of the loss has yet to be determined.

Fire officials closely inspected two grills in front of the burned area outside the house. Curtis said he had not used a grill since the past weekend.

Assisting the Spring Lake department were firefighters from the Ferrysburg and Crockery Township departments, North Ottawa Community Hospital paramedics, and Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police officers.

To see more photos from the fire, CLICK HERE.

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