Glen Arbor house fire sparks concerns about safety

Glen arbor house fire sparks concerns about future safety

LEELANAU COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- A vacant home in Glen Arbor was destroyed after going up in flames last weekend.

The fire chief says high winds knocked a tree onto nearby power lines, causing a high voltage of energy into the house, sparking the fire.

A major storm on August 2, 2015 left many dead and weak trees behind. Residents say they're worried that could spark more fires.

“Yeah this area definitely more prone to it,” said Matt Tarsa.

Tarsa is the caretaker of the vacant home that burned to the ground on Saturday.

He says after the storm of August 2015, he cut down all the trees he thought could be dangerous around the home.

“You don't know which ones were stressed from the wind,” said Tarsa. “So they took the wind, they took the gusts, but they stood back up. Those are the ones that are hard to tell that were damaged and this one is a perfect example of that.”

It's something Leelanau County officials have heard a lot about after the national park service decided to leave the dead trees alone.

“It contradicts some of the safety aspects of it but it is in their best interest,” said Matt Ansorge, the director of Leelanau County Emergency Management.

The fire chief says Saturday’s fire was unusual, and that Glen Arbor's landscape keeps them at a low risk of a wildfire.

“For many many years we have had dead trees on the ground,” said Fire Chief John Dodson, with the Glen Lake Fire Department. “We are a very wooded area, 70 percent national park. Those trees are also dead near power lines. We do not have a considerable amount of wildfires or any more fires than anyone else who have dead trees.”

And because first responders are aware of the situation, they're prepared should something happen.

“That goes a long way,” said Ansorge. “As far as any kind of threat to the wildfires concern, first responders are going to be working well together so they can attack that issue very well.”

“The probability of a raging fire such as what you see in California is not highly likely,” said Dodson.

Chief Dodson says the property owners are responsible for keeping their yard safe.

Not only should people cut down dead trees, but also make sure there aren't leaves or branches in the yard.

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