New Year's Day blaze rekindles

A pile of rubble sits in front of a gaping hole at a house at 300 Arlington Ave. that was destroyed in a New Year's Day fire.
Becky Vargo
Jan 3, 2014

Homeowner Terry Pearson said he hopes to rebuild on the spot.

“I want to stay right there,” he said as he nursed a cup of coffee at a nearby motel. “I love that location.”

On Wednesday evening, Pearson and his stepson, Josh Grant, had just left the house to get food and a movie after the family had returned from a trip. His wife, Vickie, stayed behind to take a bath.

“We travel a lot for work. We got home around 6:20 p.m.,” Pearson said. “Absolutely everything was fine in the house.”

Shortly before 7 p.m., the smoke alarms activated and Vickie got out of the tub and opened the bathroom door.

“I saw smoke everywhere,” she said. “I saw smoke pouring out of the basement.”

Terry said he and Josh were pulling out of the drive-through at Taco Bell when his wife called.

“I was in a panic,” Terry said.

Terry rushed home in time to see flames already showing through the basement windows.

“I opened the door and got hit with a wall of smoke,” he said.

They shut the door and retreated.

Firefighters arriving on the scene saw flames in the basement and battled extensive fire before declaring it out at 9:23 p.m.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said officers patrolled the area throughout the night, and the fire rekindled just before 1 a.m. Thursday.

“It rekindled, we came back and put it out again,” Hawke said.

Firefighters cleared the scene a second time at 5:53 a.m. Thursday. A new crew arrived at 6 a.m. “to do fire watch,” said officer Terry Turkelson.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



So very sad. Was the house considered a "total loss" the first time the fire was put out? Or was it "restorable" at that point?


I would say from my experience, it was structurally a total loss the first time. Without actually being on scene, I can tell from the scene photo's during the initial call that it likely was "structurally" beyond repair. When a fire is raging in the basement the way it was, it likely took out a good portion of the floor along with the lower section of the walls where they tie into the foundation. The unfortunate part is there might have been some items that could have been salvaged before the rekindle. Sadly it only takes one small spark out of site to smolder enough to ignite a new fire. I hope everything works out for the Pearson family and I thankful no one was injured.

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