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A total loss

Cary Ashby • Updated Mar 6, 2017 at 11:37 PM

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Two investigators from the state fire marshal’s office spent about two hours at the scene of a Gibbs Road garage fire Saturday. But the cause remains unknown.

“The state fire marshal’s (investigators) came in and did an investigation. It’s still being determined,” said Capt. Aaron Lynch, of the Norwalk Fire Department. “Not suspicious at all.”

The house and most of the contents are considered a total loss, according to the fire report. The damage estimate was $320,000.

While Lynch said a relatively small amount of fire reached the house, it reached the attic. The fire started in the garage, which is attached to the home.

“That’s why they lost the house because it got into the attic,” he said Monday.

While fighting the fire Saturday, the crew had to call an area under the roof a collapse zone. That means nobody could be underneath for fear of the roof collapsing.

The blaze left a family of five — two adults and three children — homeless. The Red Cross assisted with housing, but it’s unknown where the family is staying.

Norwalk firefighters were called at 1:37 p.m. Saturday to 4771 Gibbs Road, where the fire started in the garage near the main door. When the crew arrived at the scene at 1:46, Lynch said the front porch and front was engulfed in flames.

“When we rolled up, the fire was fully involved,” he added.

The Milan Township Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid with an engine and tanker.  The Huron River Joint Fire District, which manned the Norwalk station, also sent two firefighters on a Norwalk engine. A total of 20 firefighters responded to the scene.

“I’d like to thank Milan and Huron River for sending help,” Lynch said.

Firefighters had the blaze under control at 2:35 p.m.

“The last units left at 8:30. We met with the fire marshal (investigators) out there,” Lynch said.

The homeowner was asleep in the house when the fire started.

“He heard some noises. They keep the dog in the garage. … He stays in the garage because he enjoys the cold,” Lynch said. “He thought that’s what it was.

When the man heard more noises, he investigated.

“He opened up the door from the house and the fire was right there,” Lynch said. 

The homeowner grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed the nearby dresser, which was inside the garage.

“When the extinguisher died, the fire erupted again,” Lynch said.

The man then left through the open garage door. Lynch said the resident was forced to kick in his front door because it was locked, found his cell phone and called 9-1-1.

“The dog is fine,” the fire captain added.

Once the firefighters knocked down the fire in the garage, they moved to the front porch and extinguished it.

“(The) fire inside the home was extinguished quickly. However, the attic was fully involved. (Firefighters) pulled ceilings to gain access to the attic and extinguished,” according to the report.

“The center of the home was declared a collapse zone due to the roof trusses sagging. Entry and exit (were) made only through windows on the (left and right) sides of the house to attack hot spots burning in the attic.”

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Staff Writer Zoe Greszler contributed to this story.

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