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2013-09-15 / News

Fire claims Goodland Twp. man’s life

Blondie’s and Dagwood’s hold benefit; donations being accepted
BY PHIL FOLEY 810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

GOODLAND TWP. — An autopsy Thursday revealed that smoke inhalation claimed the life of a 52- year-old Blacks Corners Road man who didn’t make it out of his burning home earlier in the day.

Central Dispatch sent the Goodland Township Fire Department to a home on the 3800 block of Blacks Corners Road near Clear Lake Road at 2:43 a.m.

Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. Det./Sgt. Jason Parks said when the first units arrived on the scene, “The fire was so intense they couldn’t get in the house.”

Goodland Township Fire Chief Don Bissett said Arcadia Township Fire Dept.’s training officer, Matthew Grabowski, was the first firefighter on scene. Grabowski, who only lives a few miles away on Youngs Road, told Bissett that “dragon’s fire,” was coming out the front.

Mia Rinconeño,17 and her 23- year-old brother, Adam, escaped to the breezeway roof that attached the 1 1/2-story house to a garage. The brother, Bissett said, was able to get off the roof and then used a ladder to rescue his sister.

Their mother, Maria Rinconeño was at work at the time of the fire.

However, their father Ricardo Rinconeño, was still inside the house.

He said the younger Rinconeño went back in the house through the breezeway and found his father on the bathroom floor in the fetal position, but was driven out by the heat and dense smoke.

Grabowski was also forced back by heat and smoke. Bissett said he was “pretty shook up” when he arrived. Bissett said two of his firefighters suited up with air packs and tried to enter the home through the back, but they were forced back by the heat after getting just three feet inside the door.

He said it was “not easy” for firefighters knowing there was someone still in the house.

Bissett said Rinconeño’s son told investigators he awoke to the sound of “snapping and popping” before escaping to the roof. He said it was unclear if the home had smoke detectors.

Bissett said when his first unit arrived, the Cape Cod-style home was 90 percent involved.

Goodland firefighters were soon joined by firefighters from Imlay City, North Branch, Attica Township, Arcadia Township and Brown City. Parks said firefighters had the fire under control about 4:39 a.m. Bissett said by the time it was over, there were somewhere between 45 and 48 firefighters from the six communities at the home.

By the time it was over, Bissett said, all that remained of the house were some partial walls.

While the investigation remains open, Parks said he and Michigan State Police Fire Investigator Sgt. Lenny Jaskulka believe the fire was accidental and foul play is not suspected.

Parks said the Lapeer County Medical Examiners Office ruled Rinconeño died of smoke inhalation.

Rinconeño was the second person to die as the result of a house fire this year in Lapeer County.

In early April Kenneth Dahn, 22, was found dead in his secondfloor apartment on the 500 block of Townsend Court in Imlay City. Investigators believe Dahn also died of smoke inhalation.

Samantha Dionne and Nickol Schop, owners of Blondie’s and Dagwood’s in downtown Lapeer, held a benefit sidewalk and bake sale for the Rinconeños from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Shannon Cobb, the store’s manager, said they will also donate a portion of the business’ sales through Sept. 21 to the Rinconeño family.

She said people can make checks payable to Maria Rinconeño and drop them off at Blondie’s and Dagwood’s at 193 West Nepessing St. Cobb said they are also accepting donations of gift cards and unopened basic necessities for the Rinconeños at the store.

For more information, call Cobb or Dionne at 810-664- 8120.

Parks said with cold weather coming soon, it’s a good time for residents to check the filters on their heating systems and to check their smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

For additional fire safety tips, click on the resources button of the Lapeer County Fire Chief’s Association website at www.lapeercofireassoc.org/safety.htm.

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