Fire causes major damage at Gateway apartments

September 13, 2018

By Pat Maurer

A heroic rescue effort saved the lives of the residents of three dwellings at Gateway Apartments, 221 Gateway Drive in Clare last Friday evening.

The Clare Fire Department was called to the scene of the fire, reported in “multiple apartments,” at 8:52 p.m. September 7th. He said when the Fire Department arrived the entire front of the building was fully engulfed, but everyone was out.

Clare firemen arrived to find the front of a building at Gateway Apartments fully engulfed in flames. Photos courtesy of CFD

Clare firemen arrived to find the front of a building at Gateway Apartments fully engulfed in flames.
Photos courtesy of CFD

Chapman said he will recommend a life-saving award from the City be presented to Amber McNally, another building tenant who noticed the fire and quickly notified residents just in time to get out of the six-unit building without injury. “It could have been a fatal fire,” he said.

A resident of Apartment number 5, Amber Gale, who was home with her four children at the time, got three of them out of the apartment, but missed her five-year old, who was sleeping on the couch at the time, Chapman said. “She went to the back and used a shovel to break the glass in a sliding door and rescue the youngster.”

The five-year-old was taken to the Clare ER and transferred to Hurley Medical Center where the youngster was treated for smoke inhalation and released the next day. There were no other injuries.

Chapman said the firemen “quickly knocked the fire down,” but remained at the scene putting out smoldering cellulose (paper) insulation “and other hot spots” for several hours.

He said two of the apartments (numbers 5 and 6) were “heavily damaged by fire, smoke and water.” A third adjoining apartment (number 4) sustained minor smoke damage.

“The fire was mostly contained to the exterior wall,” Chapman added. He said the fire started on the outside of the building, but the cause has not yet been determined.

Apartment number 6 was the home of Mandy Robert, another adult and a nine-year-old youngster. Residents in number 5 included Amber Gale and four children including the five-year-old who suffered smoke inhalation. Arie Koella was the resident in apartment number 4 and the only one at home at the time.
Clare firemen were assisted at the fire by Surrey Township, Garfield Township and Harrison Fire Departments; by Mobile Medical Ambulance Service, the Clare Police Department and the Clare County Sheriff’s Office.

Firemen were on the scene for about three and a half hours, Chapman said. There is no damage estimate as yet.

Photos by Bob Guiliani

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