St. Joesph, MI – St. Joseph Township firefighters squelch blaze on Sheridan Road

By KIM STRODE / H-P Staff Writer

ST. JOSEPH — When Glenda Krieger heard the explosion in her basement Monday morning, she thought something had hit her house on Sheridan Road. Her granddaughter heard it, too, and ran outside to see what could have caused the noise.

Krieger said she ran from room to room trying to figure out what had happened. She got to the back bedroom and saw the drapes on the window flapping outside in the breeze.

She saw flames coming up from the basement through the heat register of the one-story, ranch-style house and realized that whatever had caused the fire also blew out the windows in the bedroom.

Krieger said she grabbed the phone and dialed 911. But she soon realized the phone was dead. She ran to the neighbor’s house and called for help.

Krieger and her granddaughter, who was visiting her Monday, were the only ones home, and both got out safely.

St. Joseph Township firefighters arrived at 759 Sheridan Road, a short east-west road off Niles Road and across from Riverview Park, to find the house engulfed in fire.

Although firefighters don’t know the exact cause yet, they believe the fire started in the natural gas furnace in the basement.

Firefighters received the first call about 10 a.m. They were back at Station 1 for only a short time in the afternoon before having to return to the house shortly after 2:30 p.m. when the fire rekindled. They returned to the station the second time about 5 p.m.

Station 1 Fire Chief Fred Beckman said he hadn’t had time yet to determine a cause, nor was an estimate available of the dollar loss to the wood-sided house.

He said the floors of the two bedrooms both fell into the basement, and it’s questionable whether the house can be rebuilt. “It’s pretty bad off.”

Firefighters from both of the township’s stations fought the fire. The Lincoln Township Fire Department provided mutual aid.

American Electric Power Co. workers came to the scene and cut electricity to the house while firefighters continued to fight the blaze that had spread to the upstairs through the walls.

“The first thing I thought of after we got out was all of my pictures,” Krieger said as she stood wrapped in a blanket outside her burning home. “It’s just utter devastation.”

On Sunday she and her husband, Michael, had 16 people over for Easter dinner. They said they are just glad the fire didn’t happen then.

“I had Medic 1 bring my mother over from the nursing home,” she said. “Can you just imagine what could have happened?”

When Michael Krieger arrived home, he and a neighbor pulled his fishing boat from the smoky garage.

It’s one of the few things they’ll recover from the house they lived in for 30 years.

H-P Staff Writer Michael Eliasohn contributed to this article.