2015-05-07 / Front Page

Fire destroys condemned Twp. home

BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

GAINES TOWNSHIP – A sudden shift in wind direction touched off a blaze that leveled a farmhouse and closed another chapter in the life story of an aged Gaines Township veteran.

The house had been slated for demolition after authorities removed the lone occupant in February.

The man had been living in squalor, despite repeated attempts by family, friends and community leaders to obtain help for him. His situation had deteriorated and was considered a “life or death” scenario, township officials said at that time.

Sunday, a demolition crew hired by a lawyer was clearing the condemned property on Morrish Road south of Hill Road.

The crew was removing scrap and burning brush when, around 9:30 a.m., the wind shifted and swept up embers, depositing them onto the old, dilapidated buildings, said Gaines Township Police Chief Mark Schmitzer.

“It was a controlled burn that got out of control,” said Schmitzer. “The Fire Department was monitoring it quite closely. It was just a freak accident because the wind shift came up real quick.”

The fire razed the house, barn and a shed.

Firefighters from Mundy Township and Swartz Creek Area fire departments assisted at the scene.

No one was hurt and there was no loss of any property of value, said Schmitzer.

The chief said the man now live in an adult foster care facility and is doing well physically.

When authorities removed him from his home, the house had no heat or water, a tree limb had crashed through the roof this winter, and during one visit by the code enforcement officer, a raccoon had poked its head up through a hole in the floor.

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