Milton Twp. fire ruled ‘flash fire,’ not explosion

NOW: Milton Twp. fire ruled ‘flash fire,’ not explosion

MILTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- It was originally thought to be an explosion. But investigators now say a massive fire that destroyed a Milton Township home Tuesday, and injured a man, was instead a fast-moving, loud ‘flash fire.’

“I thought my grandparents were in there,” said Tiaira Tedder. “And then I found out where they were at and I’m like, ‘Oh, ok. They’re ok.’”

Some ABC57 viewers sent in photos and a video of the huge fire as it tore through a home on Bertrand Street in Milton Twp. Tuesday evening.

“It’s been here forever,” Tedder said of the home. “All of the grandkids grew up here playing, helping with the garden, everything.”

Tedder’s grandparents called the property their home for almost 50 years.

Despite the fire spreading quickly, both managed to make it out alive.

“The neighbor across the street had heard a couple thumps and he thought maybe somebody had hit a tree or something cause the roads were icy,” said Gary Brovold, the chief of the Niles Charter Township Fire Department. “[He] opened up his front door to look and see if he could see anything. At that point, he saw the fire across the street – the house was already involved. He heard the neighbor, Jerry that lived here, calling for help, so he yelled at his wife to dial 9-1-1. He came over right away and met them as they were coming out of the front of the structure.”

Tedder said her grandfather received burns to 25-percent of his body.

He is currently being treated at a hospital in Kalamazoo, but is expected to be ok.

His wife was not injured in the fire. The family said on Wednesday that police had incorrectly stated Tuesday night that she was taken to a hospital to be evaluated for unrelated medical issues.

Brovold said one indicator that there wasn’t an explosion – as authorities first said there was on Tuesday night – is the lack of a debris field around the property.

He said had there been a blast, the walls of the home would’ve been blown out onto the lawn. But aerial footage shot by Skydrone 57 on Wednesday showed the damage was contained to where the house once stood.

Investigators spent most of Wednesday combing through what’s left of the house. Michigan State Police troopers even brought a drone to survey from above.

“It could’ve turned out totally different,” Brovold said. “The fact that they got out is kind of a blessing and a miracle all in one because you don’t see it very often, especially with the fire involved as much as it was.”

“I’m glad they’re ok,” Tedder said. “That’s all that matters. You can always buy a new house. You can’t buy people.”

The property remained taped off on Wednesday as crews continue to investigate.

Brovold said he did not believe the fire was suspicious in any way.

He also called it a ‘flash fire’ – spreading so quickly, it created thumping noises that were mistaken as explosions.

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