By Pat Maurer
Investigators believe the cause of a Freeman Township fire that burned a house to the ground on Wednesday was “suspicious,” according to a neighbor and family member of the home’s owner.
Clare County Sheriff’s Department Detective Mike Coon spoke to neighbors who were witnesses to the Gladwin Road blaze. The fire is under investigation and may be drug related, according to several sources.
Bill Snyder, a former delivery person for the Review and owner of a home on Twin Lakes Avenue just ¼ mile east of the home that burned, said he and wife Linda have seen “people coming and going all the time” at the house.
The home belongs to his sister-in-law Shirley Snyder and her son Ricky VanBuskirk, he said, but they hadn’t been living there since his brother Clarence died about two years ago. “I think her grandson Jesse lived there sometimes,” he said.
Snyder said he and his wife Linda were having lunch when their dog alerted them by barking. “She went to the back door and wouldn’t stop barking,” he said. “I got up to look out back and I saw smoke coming out of the peak of the house,” he said. He said his wife Linda called the Lincoln Township Fire Department around 1:25 p.m. “When they arrived around 2:30 p.m. the house was totally engulfed,” he said, adding that firefighters were on the scene until after 6 p.m.
No one was in the home at the time, Snyder said, but there were people there in the morning. He said it was a single story home about 24 feet by 30 feet.
Snyder said the home was “directly behind” his home but on Gladwin Road. Snyder lives at the corner of Twin Lakes Avenue and Gladwin Road.