Walkerville woman dies in trailer fire.

January 27, 2017

Walkerville FireWalkerville woman dies in trailer fire.

#Walkerville #Fatalfire

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LILLEY TOWNSHIP (Newaygo County) — Mari Sue Conkle, 36, of Walkerville died in a single-wide trailer fire Wednesday morning, Jan. 25, in the 9200 block of 13 Mile Road, approximately one mile from the Oceana County line.

The fire was dispatched at approximately 10:30 a.m., said Walkerville Fire and Rescue Captain Lance VanSickle. It was reported as a “fully-engulfed” trailer fire based on information central dispatch received from the person who called 911. However, just smoke was showing when fire crews arrived, VanSickle said.

Firefighters were advised via radio en route to the fire that a person was still inside, VanSickle said.

“When you hear that, the process of the attack completely changes,” VanSickle said. “It changed the atmosphere immensely.”

Fire crews knocked the fire down quickly, he said. The roof never caved in, and it’s possible the trailer could be salvaged. One end of the trailer, which is where a bedroom was located, is burned out, he said. Conkle’s body was not found in that end of the trailer, he said.

Walkerville was dispatched to the scene for mutual aid to the Lilley Township Fire Department, which was the commanding department. A phone call to Lilley Township Fire Chief Scott Debruyne was not immediately returned.

VanSickle could not comment on what caused the fire because it is under investigation and his department was not the commanding agency. The Newaygo County Fire Marshall conducted a full investigation Thursday, he said.

“The odds were not in her favor for getting out,” he said of Conkle. “There was too much smoke.” He did not know if the trailer was Conkle’s residence.

Also assisting at the scene were Professional Med Team Ambulance and the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office.

VanSickle said it was a traumatic event even for a 30-year firefighting veteran like himself. It was his first fatal fire in three decades of service. A few of his fellow firefighters are new to the department, and this fire was the fourth fire that they’ve ever fought in their lives, he said. “It’s a traumatic event,” he said.

All of the firefighters who were at the scene are meeting tonight at the Lilly Township Fire Station for a de-briefing session, and a counselor or counselors will be on hand. “We need to make sure everyone’s OK. You can’t keep that bottled up.”

The mood was extremely somber at the scene Wednesday, he said. “Everybody had a long face. No one was talking.”

“I’m very impressed with the guys we had there and Lilley’s firefighters. Everybody did an excellent job.”

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