By BETH ALTENA For all we knew, our building was about to go. In the early afternoon on Tuesday, August 11, the lower level of the Squire Newspaper office filled with smoke. It smelled like an electrical fire, but the staff couldn’t identify the source. It was frightening, and the staff made the right call, the Rockford Department of Public Safety. For years we have written about the success of the combination of departments of police, fire and public works, and the quick and impressive response at the Squire during an actually emergency was proof the new system, which saves taxpayers a half million dollars a year, also provides and even better response than traditional departments. Chief Jones was there immediately and in four minutes there were three fire trucks and numerous emergency vehicles at our location. We were advised to evacuate and waited outside as fully-prepared first responders entered the building with their gear and accessories to look for hot spots in our walls, search the property where the smoke and smell was located and otherwise protect our property. You could see from the attendance that responders were from all of the combined departments. The fire fighters on the scene were the same people we just photographed preparing an emergency response in the case of an active shooter in a public school building. The people we saw in Rockford t-shirts are the Department of Public Works employees, now seasoned firefighters as well, who dropped their work on our city grounds and other duties to respond to a fire threat.’ “You wouldn’t see a response like this in even a big city,” Chief Dave Jones said. Jones noted that he was nearby and able to reach our location quickly. Officer Robinson was also close and everyone else was ready to respond if our fire had progressed. In addition to Chief Jones, who started his career as Chief of Police, and now leads the combined departments, we had Fire Marshall Mike Reus, who annually inspects buildings in Rockford to watch for dangerous practices (he found a gas-operated piece of equipment in our office dangerously stored next to the furnace one year). Newly trained Arson Inspector Jason Bradley was able to try out his new skills (we […]
Firefighters from Ada, Cannon and Grattan tackled the blaze of a house fire in the 6600 block of Ramsdell Dr. Police closed Ramsdell Drive from Belding Road NE to Greely Avenue NE. The fire started shortly after 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 21 in the garage and rapidly spread through the entire house. The majority of the fire was under control by 7:30 p.m. Fortunately all residents were able to escape in time.
by JUDY REED Nelson Township resident Brad Smith knew something wasn’t right when he saw a plume of smoke rising into the air as he drove west on 18 Mile near Shaner about 2 p.m. Thursday, April 16. “I’d seen fires around from people burning but this was different,” he said. Smith headed in the direction of the smoke, finally finding the source on Wildwood Court, a private drive east off Shaner, just south of Coan. “The roof was on fire, and there was a woman at home, so I helped her get her dog out,” said Smith. While the home of Nancy and Steve Hazen was destroyed, their sister-in-law, Jean St. Charles, and the dog, made it out safely. Firefighters were called to the scene about 2 p.m. with DNR aerial support reporting a 5-acre grass fire moving toward the house. Crews from seven fire departments, including Sand Lake, Cedar Springs, Algoma, Solon, Spencer, Howard City, and Courtland Fire Departments, battled both the house fire and the wildfire that ignited it for several hours Thursday afternoon. Four tankers of water were brought in to quell the blaze. Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander said it was definitely the wildfire that started the house on fire, and not the other way around. “It started in the northeast tract and moved up behind the house,” he explained. Wildfires were rampant last week because of dry, windy conditions, and officials originally theorized that someone burning brush might have sparked it. However, the state fire marshal inspected the scene Monday, and was not able to determine the exact cause of the fire. The DNR used their GPS tool to estimate that the fire scorched about 17-18 acres, including the home. Other homes were not damaged. According to the National Fire Interagency Center, there were 412 wildfires in Michigan in 2008 that burned 2,675 acres. Nationally, over 80,000 wildfires burned over 5,254,000 acres last year.