Harrison FD fights house, numerous grass fires

May 4, 2018

By Pat Maurer

A Harrison firefighter, Jeff Meixner, was on his way home from work around 3:30 p.m. April 27th when he heard a fire call that was disregarded and decided to check it out.

He drove by the home at 2610 North Cook Avenue in Redding Township and saw smoke coming from the building. He made a call to the Harrison Fire Department at the same time as an alarm came in again for the fire.

The Redding Township home of Janie McGhee burned to the ground in a fire April 27th. The home was fully engulfed when the Fire Department arrived at the North Cook Avenue home.

The Redding Township home of Janie McGhee burned to the ground in a fire April 27th. The home was fully engulfed when the Fire Department arrived at the North Cook Avenue home.

He told Chief Chris Damvelt that he opened the door to check and see if anyone was inside the smoke-filled home and called out. With no response, he waited for the Fire Department to arrive.

“When we got there the house just erupted in flames,” Damvelt said.

After fighting the blaze they learned that the owner of the home, Janie McGhee had left around 2:30 p.m. to go to Grand Rapids to see family. “She always shut everything off carefully before leaving the house,” Damvelt said.
It took until 7 p.m. to put the fire out and by then the house was a total loss.

Harrison firemen, assisted by Lincoln Township, Marion Fire and the Department of Natural Resources were able to stop the fire from spreading to the surrounding area.
5-2-18 Harrison House Fire 02
The fire was the beginning of a very long weekend of fighting both grass and structure fires for the Harrison Department.
Two smaller grass fires on the 29th were followed by a 1 p.m. grass fire that threatened a house and vehicle at 4082 Filter Road in Hayes Township.

At 2:30 p.m. the department was called out again for a woods fire at 1141 East Avenue in Frost Township where a woods fire ignited a garage, destroying it, a truck and two outbuildings and causing damage to the home. The fire reportedly started with a small fire from burning debris in a backyard. Clare assisted Harrison in fighting the blaze and the scene was cleared at 4:26, Damvelt said.

On the way back to their department, Clare firefighters handled a fire on South Clare Avenue for the Harrison Department that was just south of Mannsiding Road on Boy Scout Camp property. That fire started with fire escaping from a burning barrel and threatened nearby cabins before it was extinguished. Harrison cleared the scene at 6:30 p.m.

The department was called out again almost immediately to a grass fire on Cranberry Lake Road in Hayes Township east of Clare Avenue. The cause suspected in that fire is children playing with matches. The scene was cleared at 7 p.m.
Monday brought more calls. At 11:10 a.m. a woods fire was reported at 6641 Lake Street in Hamilton Township. Damvelt said, “The first call was for a woods fire. The second call was for a woods fire with structures involved.

That fire burned a 10 ft. by 10 ft. shed and damaged home. It started from a neighbor burning leaves on Sunday. The man believed the fire was out and left headed downstate. The fire re-ignited and firefighters were on the scene until 1:30 p.m. battling the blaze.

Tuesday, around 2:30 p.m. a woods fire called firefighters out again to Greenwood Township where ten acres of woods were consumed in an area off Peasley Lane which is off Lily Lake Road. The fire, which also destroyed an old mobile home on the property, reportedly was started by a campfire. Occupants of a nearby camper trailer had doused with water and believed was extinguished. It re-ignited and quickly caught the woods on fire. Firefighter had the blaze under control when it jumped an area cleared by a bulldozer and started another fire, burning more property, about ten acres before it was put out. Firefighters cleared the scene around 7:30 p.m.

The Department of Natural Resources assisted the Harrison Department.

Photos courtesy of Harrison Fire Department

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