Resident Preparing Squirrel Meal Causes Fire

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GK Hart/Vikki Hart

A Holland Township, Mich. resident’s meal plans were dashed on Wednesday afternoon when his attempt to clean a squirrel before cooking it started a massive fire.

The resident was attempting to remove the animal’s fur using a propane torch on the third floor deck of the Clearview Apartment complex when the deck caught fire, MLive reported.

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About 20 people evacuated the building, according to the website. Kellen and Beverly Mouw, students who work as unit technicians at Holland Hospital, were among those who fled the smoldering complex. The newlyweds were sleeping before their night shift when they awoke to their neighbors screaming about the flames.

“I wasn’t sure what to make of it,” Kellen Mouw told MLive. “We ran into a gentleman and he told us that we needed to get out.”

The Mouws obeyed, carrying their cats, cell phones and some clothing to safety but leaving their wedding gifts and textbooks behind. The American Red Cross provided clothing and temporary shelter for the couple and other displaced tenants, MLive reported.

Fire Chief Jim Kohsel told MLive that although the blaze left all residents unscathed, it rendered 38 units in the building uninhabitable. Of the 38 apartments, eight are ruined and others on the lower level of the complex have smoke and water damage. The fire also burned the roof off of some parts of the building. A firefighter emerged from the scene with a broken toe as well.

Meal preparation causes a significant proportion of residential fires, according to the latest report by the National Fire Protection Association. The 2010 report found cooking is responsible for 44% of home fires, 40% of home fire injuries and 15% of property damage.

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