EGELSTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- While Memorial Day is a day for those who have served to protect our freedom and holiday outside with a BBQ or by the pool or lake, one Muskegon County family will have a different memory. They lost nearly everything when their home burned Memorial Day afternoon.
It took more than two dozen firefighters from four departments to get the fire under control. The had the fire out within 30 minutes of arriving to the scene, but the house is a total loss, and many of the items inside that can't be replaced had sentimental value for the Copas family.
“The house has been in our family for a long time,” said Audra Copas, sister to the current owner. "Our older brother bought it, and he passed away with leukemia. My other brother took it over, and his kids moved into it. Now it`s gone. Memories, everything, it`s all gone."
The owner has a heart condition and was too devastated to go on camera.
“It’s very sad,” said Copas. "My niece was living in it at the time -- her and her four children -- and they lost it all. They don`t have anything. They don`t have anything at all."
All the belongings of the late oldest brother are now a pile of ash in the attic. Copas only has memories to hold onto. Some of her favorite memories were the times she spent at this home.
“We would all be there on the holidays, especially during the summer, because we are right here near Wolf Lake. We would all go to the park, and we would play with our kids and everything, and it was a really happy time for him, and he just made it great for all of us. He was our oldest brother and a great uncle."
The fire is still under investigation, but firefighters believe the cause may have been electrical. First responders arrived just after 3 p.m.
“We had fire coming out the front side of the structure and the side of the structure, heavy smoke,” said Mark Cleveland of the Egelston Township Fire Department, "At that point we were unsure if there were any occupants in the home or not."
Luckily the family was not home. They were alerted by neighbors that their home was on fire. There are no fire hydrants in Egelston Township, so firefighters have to bring their own water, which means they needed help from neighboring departments.
“Actually four departments helped us: Muskegon Township, Fruitport, and Norton Shores with the canteen," said Cleveland.
Copas is so glad she didn't lose another brother but doesn't know where her relatives will go from here.
“It`s very devastating to them, and that's the ones I am concerned about,” said Copas.