Berrien County family homeless after fire


Galien, Mich. A Berrien County family is without a home after theirs went up in flames Friday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to a house in the 4400 block of Olive Branch Road in Galien around 4:30 p.m.

Several curious neighbors had been drawn to the area by heavy black smoke.

"I think they probably got about 20 phone calls in saying there was a fire out here," said neighbor Christian Lawrence. "Once the flames started up on the backside of the garage, the trees started on fire. That's when other people started calling 911 saying, 'Look, if you guys don't get out here it's going to be huge.'"

Firefighters from several departments rushed to the scene and faced several challenges. The home itself was about 150 feet back from the road, making transporting water difficult.

"We're fairly rural, so we have no hydrant supply," said Lt. Dennis Kastner with the Galien Fire Department. "So, we depend on tankers to provide the water."

Those tankers were constantly running back and forth, trying to provide the water necessary to knock out quickly spreading flames.

By the time the blaze was extinguished, the home was destroyed.

"The gentleman lost everything," Kastner said.

Thankfully, no one was injured. But, neighbors say it had already been a tough week for the family. They weren't home at the time of the fire because they were out of town dealing with the death of a family member. Now, they have no home to return to.

The Red Cross stepped in to provide the couple with any food, clothing or shelter they may need.

And, neighbors say they'll help in any way they can, too.

"It takes a lot to work up to the point they were at in life," Lawrence said. "And, then for you to come home and it's all gone -- how do you really start over from that?"


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