First responders, neighbors react to house fire ignited by fireworks in Kalamazoo
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) —
Crews put out a massive fire at a home in Kalamazoo that escalated after hundreds of fireworks inside the home caught fire.
It started around 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning near Portage Street and Lake Street.
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety told Newschannel 3 a stockpile of fireworks went up in flames and were shooting out of the house when they arrived.
Lt. Rafael Diaz of KDPS was the first to respond to the fire.
“I parked here and when I got out, it looked like the fourth of July," Lt. Diaz said. "The front of this porch had fireworks exploding all over the place, and the distance from my vehicle to the house was as close as I needed to be.”
Lt. Diaz, as well as other neighbors, reported seeing fireworks shooting out of the front porch shortly after the fire started.
“All kinds of colors, it was lit up like a Christmas tree,” said Lt. Diaz.
Larry Snow saw it all unfold from his 10th story apartment at Washington Square Senior Living.
“I thought someone was getting shot outside in our parking lot, so I hopped up to the window and I saw all the fireworks going off," Snow said. "The whole place just lit up. Bangs, booms and fireworks going all over the place.”
He joined dozens of people who watched firefighters battle the massive fire for roughly two hours this morning.
“I was thinking did everybody get out, and thank goodness everybody did,” Snow said.
The homeowner, Margaret Hayes, and her son David did make it out of the house safely.
Hayes said the house is over 100 years old, and she's been living there since 1976. Relatives said David had a stockpile of fireworks because he was licensed to put on large displays.
Fire crews indicated the fire was started on the front porch, then lit the stockpile of fireworks ablaze.
“With the construction of the house, and the fireworks, and knowing no one was inside the house, we decided to stay outside and take a defensive position,” Lt. Diaz said.
This was not the first time firefighters were at Hayes’ house this week. She called the fire department on Tuesday, because a “mysterious” fire began near the rear of her house. Fire officials confirmed they responded to a small fire at the home on Tuesday.
Just last month one house exactly one block away from Hayes Street on Neumaier Court caught fire twice in a span of two weeks. The city fire marshal said the two fires at that house are still under investigation. Hayes said she owned that house too, and rented it out to the two people who live there.
That’s why Hayes said she believes this fire was set intentionally. But as for who, she did not have any guesses.
Fire officials would not comment on Sunday’s fire and said it is under investigation.
The fire marshal asks that anyone who may have any information about the fire to call them or Silent Observer.