2018-08-12 / News

North Branch house under renovation burns in fire

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Firefighters from North Branch, Deerfield Township and Burlington Township gather around a home on the corner of Jefferson and Pleasant streets. 
Photos by Phil Foley Firefighters from North Branch, Deerfield Township and Burlington Township gather around a home on the corner of Jefferson and Pleasant streets. Photos by Phil Foley NORTH BRANCH — Ruth Fox Middle School Principal Cindy Howe and colleague Teresa Upleger, the district’s Special Ed Supervisor, were on their way to a meeting with North Branch Area Schools Superintendent Jim Fish when they noticed smoke billowing from a home on the corner of Jefferson and Pleasant streets Wednesday morning.

“We banged on the windows and called 9-1-1,” said Howe. “There was really black smoke coming out from the eaves,” Howe said. “We thought, ‘That’s not right.’ ”

North Branch Township Fire Chief Ken Jentzen, who was one of the first firefighters on the scene, said two men had been renovating the house for the past two years as finances allowed. “They were almost done,” he said. “They were down to one bathroom.”


Ruth Fox Middle School Principal Cindy Howe was one of the first people to notice smoke coming from the unoccupied home. Ruth Fox Middle School Principal Cindy Howe was one of the first people to notice smoke coming from the unoccupied home. Leonard Cowls, who lives in an elegant brick home on the west side of Jefferson, said the house had been unoccupied for about four years. “The previous owner put on a new roof and replaced the furnace about five years ago,” he said.

Jentzen said the cause of the fire in the roughly 1,200-squarefoot home remains under investigation. The house sustained extensive heat, smoke and water damage and it’s unclear if the building is salvageable.

Jentzen said firefighters responded from North Branch, Burlington Township and Deerfield Township. No one was in the house at the time of the fire.

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