Fruitport family loses home in Saturday night fire

Becky Vargo • Apr 9, 2016 at 11:09 PM

FRUITPORT TWP. — A motorist passing by reported a large column of smoke and neighbors reported seeing fire through the woods just before firefighters were called to a fire at a residence in the 2800 block of Farr Road Saturday night.

A family member said the home belonged to Tom Catz and his wife, Tina Clish.

Emergency crews responding to the 8:12 p.m. call found the house fully involved in fire upon arrival.

Fruitport Township Fire Chief Brian Michelli said the long, bumpy driveway was a challenge for firefighters who had to use tankers to haul in water to battle the blaze.

“The challenges were getting enough water on the scene fast enough,” he said.

Because the fire was so advanced when they arrived, power lines serving the house had melted and lay on the ground, causing firefighters problems in accessing that area of the house, the chief said.

Firefighters initially thought family members might be inside when they responded, but they determined nobody was at home.

A family member said the entire family had gone bowling for the evening and they were contacted about 8:30 p.m. about the fire.

Michelli said the family dog may have been inside and had not been located.

The fire started in the center of the home, but the cause of the fire was not determined as of late Saturday night, Michelli said. 

The fire chief said the home, valued at approximately $95,000, was a total loss.

An investigation into the cause of the fire would be conducted over the next couple days, he said.

Fruitport Township firefighters were assisted at the scene by Norton Shores, Spring Lake Township and Crockery Township fire departments.

Also responding was Muskegon Canteen and Promed ambulance.

Michelli said the family was being assisted by the American Red Cross.

The fire remains under investigation.

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