Damages estimated at $400,000; seven fire departments battled garage fire that quickly spread

Photo by Bill Petzold • Hot ashes from a fireplace likely caused the blaze that destroyed this Cass City area home Tuesday afternoon.

By Stacey Tucker
Staff Writer

CASS CITY — A Cass City family is looking at $400,000 worth of damage to their home after it became engulfed in flames Tuesday afternoon.

The fire that tore through the Centennial home of Dennis Burke, located at 5440 Dodge Rd., first originated in the garage. Elkland Township Fire Chief Glenn Guilds said Burke’s wife had just cleaned out the home’s fireplace and took the ashes out to a bucket in the garage.

“She had been taking the ashes out into the garage for years,” Guilds said. “About 10-15 minutes later they smelled smoke.

“She probably just missed the pan and it landed on a combustable.”

The fire quickly spread from the garage to the house, which because of its older construction, quickly spread to the second floor.

Guilds said a portion of the house was a total loss, with severe smoke damage in the rest.

Around forty firefighters from seven area departments responded to the scene around 2 p.m. working until 6:30 p.m. to squelch the flames. The cold weather conditions hindered the firefighters work, icing the roadway and equipment.

“We were basically battling the elements,” Guilds said. “All the fire departments did a great job.

“Everyone worked their tails off to keep warm.”

Guilds said it took another three hours after returning to the firehall to deice equipment.

The Elkland Township Fire Department was assisted by Bingham Township, Elmwood Township, Oliver Township, Owendale, Caro and Kingston Fire Departments.

The Tuscola County Road Commission assisted in keeping salt down on the road, while MMR was on hand in case of an emergency and the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department kept the road closed to keep emergency traffic flowing.

“We had 10-15 cars lined up along Dodge Road,” Guilds said. “They have good intentions but they get in everybody’s way.”

The house, which sits on a large dairy farm, suffered $200,000 in fire, smoke and water damage. Inside the garage, two cars valued at a total of $100,000 were lost as well as $100,000 in the contents of the home.

Stacey Tucker is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at tucker@tcadvertiser.com.



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