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Fire in Muskegon leads to 'total loss' of apartment building

muskegon apartment fire.jpg
Posted at 12:01 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 12:10:52-05

MUSKEGON, Mich. — A fire completely destroyed an apartment building in Muskegon on Monday night, leaving several families with everything they owned destroyed and with nowhere to go.

Jay Paulson, deputy director of the Muskegon Fire Department, says everyone in the building has been now been accounted for. They had initially been concerned about there possibly being squatters still in the building. MSP has since been able to run a cadaver dog through the scene to verify that no one died in the blaze.

A woman was checked on scene for possible smoke inhalation, but was found to be alright by paramedics on scene.

A firefighter was also hurt, but Deputy Director Paulson said the injury was very minor.

The apartment building is likely a total loss. “We've got 10 units... They lost everything, no renter's insurance,” Deputy Director Paulson told FOX 17 Tuesday.

Investigators say the fire likely started on a stove top on the building's first floor. From there, they say it was quick to leap onto the roof.

"It really kind of bypassed that 2nd floor... and went right to the roof, and that's what kind of gave us the problems,” Deputy Director Paulson said.

On that 2nd floor was Deablo Brown and his girlfriend, who have called the building home for about the last 12 years.

“I lost everything in 5 minutes… it's terrible," he said Tuesday.

“I just came out when I heard the beep beep beep and there was smoke already at the time, so I just grabbed my coat, wallet and left... told my girlfriend to come along with me.”

You can donate to a GoFundMe organized for Deablo Brown HERE.

Fire crews had to bring in heavy equipment to get to the upper floor after the roof caved in.

Teresa Belmarez, her husband and their 2 kids were in their unit on the 1st floor when smoke alarms started going off.

“My 4-year-old son was taking a bath, so I just immediately took him out of the bath, wrapped him up in a blanket... we went to the car,” she said Tuesday.

“Right after Christmas, it's just.. it's heartbroken.”

You can donate to a GoFundMe organized for Teresa Belmarez and her family HERE.

Jamarkus McDonald was also with his son, and 3 other friends, in his 2nd floor unit.

“I popped the door and so much smoke hit me," he told FOX 17 on Tuesday.

"Closed the door, locked it, and I grabbed my son and I left out the fire escape, because I could not leave through the front door.”

The 2 fire escapes now lay mangled on each side of the complex.

You can donate to a GoFundMe organized for Jamarkus McDonald HERE.

Lisa Wisniewski-Bosworth lived in a basement unit with her daughter. Her daughter's beloved ukulele was lost in the fire.

You can donate to a GoFundMe organized for Lisa Wisniewski-Bosworth HERE.

Passersby trying to get a look at what was going on also drove over one of the department’s fire hoses, which Paulson says is frustrating and not the first time this has happened recently.

“People need to stay clear of our scenes,” he said.

A wrecker had to be brought to the scene to lift the woman's car off the hose, as they were worried about it's undercarriage damaging the hose if she drove any further. Paulson said the hose was feeding their aerial truck about 1,200 gallons of water a minute.

The Red Cross was on scene in the aftermath of the fire, providing residents with essentials like water and blankets, and setting them up in a nearby hotel for the night.