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Cause of apartment fire ‘undetermined’

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:27 PM

Detective Steve McCarthy of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said he was unable to reach a conclusion to what caused the fire at the Country Villa Apartments, which is on the corner of State Road and 144th Avenue.

Despite suggestions from neighbors that the fire may have been started by the occupant’s former boyfriend — an alleged gang member — McCarthy said no one is being charged with a crime because he could not determine that arson was involved.

Firefighters from three area departments responded to the fire at about 3:30 a.m. April 1 after a resident in the upstairs unit woke up to a room full of smoke.

Adam Kiser said he initially thought it was his apartment that was on fire. But when he went on his balcony to look outside, he saw flames shooting out the windows of the apartment below him.

Kiser said he knew that the downstairs occupant was in the process of moving out and was not home at the time, so he ran to the only other occupied apartment in the building and roused the residents.

No one was injured in the fire, but the downstairs apartment was destroyed. Kiser’s apartment had some fire and smoke damage.

Complex owner Jill Recker of JDR Properties said damage estimates are still being compiled, but would probably be at least $75,000.

Half of the four-plex has to be rebuilt, Recker said, and the other half has to be cleaned. She said the work should begin in the next few weeks.

Kiser and the residents of the other second-floor apartment were relocated to unoccupied units.

McCarthy worked with an insurance company investigator and the Spring Lake Township fire marshal to conduct the investigation.

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