House under construction destroyed in early morning fire

Becky Vargo • Mar 24, 2018 at 9:32 AM

A house under construction burned to the ground in an early morning house fire Saturday in Grand Haven Township.

A large dune grass fire was also extinguished.

Firefighters were called at 12:44 a.m., when a neighbor to the north reported a possible wildfire or house fire in the Lake Michigan gated community called Wilderness Trail, said Lt. Dave Marshall of Grand Haven Township Fire Rescue.

All that the caller could see was a glow in the distance, he said.


Marshall said the first crew in responded in the short tanker, due to the narrow, winding and hilly roads. But they were sent to the wrong area of the development and it took a little extra time to back out. 

“I could see the glow further to the south,” Marshall said.

When they arrived on the scene at 12825 Wilderness Trail, the large structure was fully involved in fire.

At that point, “it was just about saving that other house and keeping it from getting worse,” the lieutenant said.

Nobody was in the burning structure and the homes to the north and south were not occupied, Marshall said.

“I’m sure that contributed to the delay in notification,” the lieutenant said.

Several other departments were called in to assist, including those with the smaller tanker trucks that could more easily navigate the narrow, winding roads, Marshall said.

Assisting at the scene were Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg fire departments. Tankers were also called in from Crockery, Robinson, Port Sheldon and Olive townships. Marshall said Norton Shores, Fruitport and Blendon firefighters backed up the responding stations.

Water had to be obtained from a hydrant on Lakeshore Drive.

Also on the scene were the Norton Shores Canteen and North Ottawa Community Hospital ambulance.

Marshall said no firefighters were injured fighting the fires.

Flames, from the burning house, caused nearby trees to catch on fire. Fire consumed the area of woods and dunes in front of the house and traveled all the way down to the beach.

The wildfire also burned within a few feet of the closest house to the south. 

Marshall said the house had walls and a roof and it appeared that workers were getting ready to start siding it.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Marshall said the Michigan State Police would be doing the investigation in conjunction with Grand Haven Township Fire Rescue.

A home value also was not available at this time.


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