Update: Firefighters called back to fire scene

February 27, 2014

scottville_fire_ABy Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

UPDATE: SCOTTVILLE — A Michigan State Police trooper and his family lost their home to fire Wednesday night. Scottville and Custer fire departments were called to 303 N. Reinberg Ave. around 8:30 p.m. for what was reported as a fire in the attic. The last fire unit cleared the scene around 3:30 a.m. only to be called back out for a rekindle at 4:45 a.m. Units cleared again at 6:18 a.m.

scottville_house_fire_303_reinberg_3Kendra Smith and her three children and their dog were able to escape without harm when they discovered the fire. Smith lives at the home with her boyfriend, John VanLopik, a Michigan State Police trooper who was on duty at the time of the fire.

Scottville Police Officer Angela Babinec was the first emergency responder on the scene. She said she responded from Johnson Road, just a few blocks away and noticed heavy smoke. Upon arrival she confirmed that the home had flames coming from the second floor.

The first fire units on scene faced difficulties from the beginning. High winds and fire hydrants buried in the snow caused challenges for the firefighters.

“We tried sending firefighters inside the house but the fire was too much,” Scottville Fire Chief Dale Larr said. “The high winds kept fanning the fire.” Winds were reported to be gusting up to 23 mph from the west.

Strong winds also put the neighboring home to the north in danger and also caused burning embers to fly into the yards of homes to the west and northwest.

Larr said the resident had multiple firearms in the home’s basement, which firefighters attempted to retrieve, but to no success due to the fast moving

Firefighters were initially unable to locate the closest fire hydrant because it was buried in the snow. They eventually hooked up to a hydrant a block away and later located the closer hydrant.

“We can’t stress enough how it’s important that residents clear out their fire hydrants,” Larr said.

Officer Baninec said Trooper VanLopik transported his family to Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital to get checked out at the emergency department, as a precaution.

Riverton Twp. Fire Dept. was also called in to assist and the American Red Cross canteen unit was also on scene to provide warm beverages to the firefighters.The Red Cross also provided the family with food, clothing, and comfort kits including quilts and afghans.

Chief Larr said he did not know what started the fire.

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