Property owner may face charges after setting house on fire.

December 28, 2016

fountain_fireProperty owner may face charges after setting house on fire. 


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SHERIDAN TOWNSHIP — The owner of an abandoned house near Round Lake maybe facing charges after he set the house on fire Wednesday afternoon.

Fountain Area Fire Department and Branch Fire Department were called to a house fire at 6983 W. Sugar Grove Road, about 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Initial dispatch information stated the house was fully engulfed in flames and three people were standing watching the fire. Neighbors said the house was demolished a few months ago. 

While en-route, firefighters discovered that the abandoned house, owned by Steve Vatka of West Olive, had been purposely set by the owner. On scene, Vatka told deputies from Mason County Sheriff’s Office that the house was no longer habitable. The home and surrounding property were owned for many years by attorney Henry Dongvillo, who passed away a few years ago.

However, the owner did not seek the required permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality nor did he remove many non-natural materials. According to an officer from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, on scene, structures can only be burned by fire departments for training purposes and even then, special permits must be acquired and all of the non-natural materials must be removed from the structure. At one point, while firefighters were extinguishing the fire, there was a small explosion from within the pile of rubble.

No citations were issued on the scene but the matter has been turned over to the Mason County Sheriff’s Office for review.

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