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Barn blaze made more difficult by blasts

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By Scott Sullivan

Editor

A barn/garage fire Thursday at 387 Mountain Ash Lane brought large flames and explosions due to building contents, it is suspected.

The Saugatuck Township Fire District was dispatched at 2:07 p.m. to the scene, south of Wiley Road and just east of I-196, of a free-standing structure, with attached chicken coop, with smoke and flames coming through the roof, IT coordinator Erik Kirchert said.

Occupants of a residence near the barn were alerted to evacuate. Vehicles were removed from the area near the burning structure. The first-arriving engine crew opened the coop door to release the chickens, Kirchert said.

Mutual aid came from neighboring Fennville, Ganges, Graafschap and Hamilton fire departments.

A few minutes into firefighting operations, a series of explosions occurred and blew out one side of the garage, causing the roof to collapse. Their source may have been smaller propane tanks for a barbecue grill and/or torches stored there, said the landowner.

There were also paint, stains, shop tools, lawnmowers and chainsaws inside, the owner said.

The fire was knocked down at 2:45 p.m. and overhaul started. Kirchert said the collapsed roof with multiple hot spots made the latter process challenging.

Water supply to the two engines proved a challenge also with limited tanker availability, he continued. A hydrant in Douglas, at the entrance to Schultz Park on the other side of the Wiley/expressway bridge was used for tanker refill. Engines were idled several times waiting for water to be brought in.

The fire was completely extinguished at 4 p.m., said Kirchert. Its cause was unknown as of press time; however, the homeowner mentioned a heat lamp in the coop as a probable cause.

No one was hurt in the explosions. However, one firefighter suffered a minor ankle injury during operations.

The barn/garage, with an estimated value of $25,000, was a complete loss, Kirchert said.