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Person Torching Squirrel Fur Starts Apartment Fire

3:08 PM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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UPDATE AT 10:10 P.M. (WZZM) -- Investigators say a person torching the fur off a squirrel started a fire that destroyed a Holland Township apartment building.

Holland Township firefighters determined the fire started when a resident was using a propane torch to remove a squirrel's fur. The person planned to eat the squirrel.

There's no estimate yet on the damaged caused by the fire.

HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) - A fast moving fire destroyed a lakeshore apartment building Wednesday afternoon, leaving a dozen families without a home.

The fire started at the Clearview Apartments off Riley Street around 12:30 p.m. WZZM 13 lakeshore reporter Alex Shabad lives in a neighboring building.

Kellen Mouw and his wife escaped from the burning building with their two cats.

"We ripped apart the mattress and got them out," says Mouw.

The Holland Township and Zeeland fire departments battled the flames for two hours. Investigators believe it started on a third floor patio.

"It appears a lot of the damage was exterior and went up into the attic," says says Captain Mike Veldheer with the Holland Township Fire Department. "It worked itself through the structure that way."

WZZM 13's Alex Shabad smelled smoke inside his apartment complex and saw it directly outside his third-floor patio. Others saw it from blocks away.

"It covered our whole park with smoke, and we live a quarter of a mile away from here," says one man.

The American Red Cross is helping as many as a dozen families who lost their homes.

"If we need to provide food, shelter, clothing, we're going to try to help people with their immediate needs," says Mike Mitchell, executive director of the Ottawa County chapter of the Red Cross.

"We just got married two months ago," says Mouw. "We have some sentimental artifacts in there and all our pictures."

Mouw and his wife are glad they're walking away with the most important things.

"They (two cats) got out safe, as did we, and that's all that matters," says Mouw.

No one was injured in the fire. The cause is still under investigation. Fire officials say one possibility is that cooking food was left alone on the patio.

For now, the building damaged by the fire will be shut down.

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