Wildfire scorches dune along Lake Michigan

Emma Dale • Jul 28, 2017 at 3:40 PM

Dozens of firefighters responded to a beach area near Lakeshore Drive and Ferris Street in Grand Haven Township early Friday afternoon to extinguish a wildfire in the dunes along Lake Michigan. 

The first firefighters on the scene found a 40-by-40-foot section of dune grass on fire in front of a lakeside home at 13213 Lakeshore Ave., near the former Van Kampen estate.  

Grand Haven Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer said the fire, which was called in by somebody at the estate, spread more than 100 yards in each direction, devouring beach grass and small trees, before it could be extinguished. No structures were damaged by the fire, the chief said. 

Grand Haven Township Fire/Rescue responded to the call for help at about noon. They were assisted at the scene by firefighters from the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg; and Spring Lake, Port Sheldon and Robinson townships. Allendale, Blendon and Wright-Tallmadge firefighters also responded. Crockery Township Fire Chief Gary Dreyer coordinated the resources.

The American Red Cross disaster relief canteen was on site to provide aid to the firefighters. 

“Twenty guys arrived initially on scene, but they were tired, dehydrated and needed to rest,” Gerencer said. That’s why the additional firefighters were requested.

North Ottawa Community Hospital paramedics responded to the lakeshore home to treat one of the firefighters. According to a firefighter on the scene, the man was not injured, but he was being taken to the hospital because of heat exhaustion. 

Gerencer said the cause of the fire is unknown. He said that he planned to question those who live nearby in an attempt to determine the cause. 

A strong breeze pushed the fire, but firefighters had it extinguished by 2 p.m. Firefighters remained on the scene for another hour, putting out hot spots and making sure it was completely out.

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