Wind causes flames to spread quickly in apt. fire

Residents displaced by fire at The Orchards at Four Mile in Walker

The Orchards at Four Mile, Walker
Crews battle a fire at The Orchards at Four Mile in Walker. (June 26, 2017)


WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Residents are expected to be without a home for at least a couple of weeks after a fire broke out at an apartment building in Walker on Monday afternoon.

No one was injured in the fire that started around 5 p.m. at The Orchards at Four Mile, just west of Alpine Avenue, Kent County Dispatch said.

“I just hear screaming and pounding on doors. I pulled open my door ’cause I heard, ‘Fire,'” said Anastasia Hartman, who lives in the building that caught fire. “I pushed my kids out of the house and just said, ‘Run.'”

She was barefoot as she fled their home and her kids didn’t have any shirts.

“We barely made it ’cause the whole top just fell completely in front of my apartment,” she said.

Flames could be seen coming from the second floor and roof and billowing smoke was visible from miles away.

“We had quite a bit of wind when I first got here and it was just like a blow torch, causing that fire to rapidly extend up through the roof,” Walker Fire Chief Robert Walker told 24 Hour News 8.

Crews attacked the fire from all directions to douse the flames.

It’s not yet known what sparked the fire. Walker said crews would be back on the scene Tuesday to survey the damage and investigate.

Anastasia Hartman lost her belongings and didn’t know where she would stay Monday night. She was grateful when a firefighter managed to get her purse and the keys to her car.

Brothers Cole and Jersey Garrow, who also live in the building that caught fire, said they’re in shock.

“I came home to all this. It was the upper floor, arch in the middle and they said we have some smoke damage and water damage, so we can’t stay here for a couple weeks,” Cole Garrow said.

The brothers say they don’t have renter’s insurance.

There are 12 units in the building that caught fire, all of which had fire, smoke or water damage. Electricity and gas were cut to all 48 units in the complex Monday.

The American Red Cross of West Michigan says it’s providing shelter, food and support to those displaced by the fire. A shelter was opened for Monday and Tuesday nights at Orchard Hills Reformed Church at 1463 3 Mile Road NW in Walker.

–24 Hour News 8’s Sarah Hurwitz contributed to this report.