But Margie Davis, affectionately known around the area as “the bird lady,” was unable to save her birds.
“All perished,” Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said. “It is not known how many.”
See more photos from the fire at the Tribune photo gallery.
Firefighters from four departments responded to 1871 Doris Court when alerted of the house fire shortly before 1 p.m. Late in the afternoon, police were still investigating the cause of the fire that quickly tore through Davis’ home.
Doris Court ends near Lake Michigan. It runs off Doris Avenue, which connects to Grand Avenue.
Heavy, black smoke was visible from all over the area when firefighters responded to the scene.
A neighbor assisted Davis from her home before emergency crews arrived, according to a neighbor who did not want to be identified.
“She was a teacher,” the neighbor said. “She used her birds to reach special-needs kids — autistic in particular. She was really good at what she did.”
Next-door neighbor Bill Chrysler said his wife was frantic when she called him at work and said he should come home.
“Flames were coming out of all of the windows,” Chrysler said. “It was violent for a while.”
Firefighters were forced to work outside the home because the floor was unsafe for them to fight the fire from inside, Hawke said. The forward progression of the fire was stopped by about 2:30 p.m., but there was still fire inside the building, Hawke said.
Firefighters repositioned fire trucks to get Grand Haven Township’s aerial truck up close. Water was dumped through the collapsed roof to extinguish the fire.
Flatbed tow trucks had to maneuver down the narrow road to get the cars away from the home. A front-end loader knocked down part of the house and pushed debris out of the way so firefighters could finish putting out the fire.
The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety was assisted at the scene by the Grand Haven Township, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Norton Shores and Allendale fire departments; North Ottawa Community Hospital paramedics; Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office; and crews from the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power and Michigan Gas Utilities.