Wildfire news April 17, 2009

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Passer-by kicks down door, helps rescue woman, dog from wildfire

From mlive.com:

Brad Smith kicked down the door to the stranger’s home, just as flames began to shoot from the roof.

“There was this lady just standing there. She was disoriented,” he said. “I just said c’mon we gotta go, the house is on fire.”

Smith said he had already stopped to untangle the homeowner’s dog on the porch. By the time the three moved away from the burning home, its roof was engulfed in flames.

“The woman was dazed, jittery, shaking and crying,” he said. “I just gave her a big hug and said it’s going to be ok.”

Smith said he and a passenger had been driving home from Cedar Springs when they saw “a huge black cloud,” and decided to investigate.

The dazed woman he saved was Jean St. Charles, 39; and her dog, Pepper. She lived in the home, 6772 Wildwood Court NW, with her sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Steve Hazen..

The Hazens’ home, which Steve, 49, built with help from his father and brothers about 17 years ago, was the sole casualty Thursday of a wildfire that authorities said started from burning of brush nearby.

Wind caused the blaze to get out of control, said Lt. Dan Richards of the Sand Lake Fire Department.

No one was injured, he said.

Richards estimated the blaze, which started about 2 p.m., consumed 50 acres or more, although the Hazens’ home sustained the only property loss. The blaze was extinguished about two hours after it began.

About 100 firefighters from about 10 department fought the blaze as it spread through wooded areas. The residence is near 21 Mile Road and Shaner Avenue, and the fire spread as far south as Shaner and 19 Mile Road.

“Everything that had sentimental value is gone, but I just thank God nobody was hurt,” said Steve Hazen.

The three-bedroom, 21/2-bathroom ranch with a walkout basement was a complete loss, and he didn’t think any personal items would be salvageable.



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