Massive fire destroys landmark building.

February 5, 2019

Massive fire destroys landmark building.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.


HART – A fire ripped through the Bill Wells’ “602 House” at the corner of State and Wood streets early Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, displacing 11 people who lived in the building.

No one was injured, said Hart Area and Shelby-Benona Fire Chief Jack White. Although, two people drove themselves to Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus in Shelby for smoke inhalation, states a press release issued late Tuesday afternoon by the Hart Police Department.

Owner Bill Wells and his wife, along with nine tenants, escaped the fire. However, the building is totally destroyed.

The building had a barber shop on the main floor and several boarding rooms upstairs. The historic building’s sign says “since 1866.”

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 3:30 a.m., White said. A total of approximately 30 firefighters from five fire departments including Hart, Shelby, Pentwater, Crystal Township and Ferry Township battled the blaze.

Also on scene were the Hart Police Department, the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office and Life EMS. A Michigan State Police fire marshall was called to the scene to investigate. At this time the cause of the fire is unknown.

The American Red Cross was called to assist the displaced residents to find emergency housing and supplies. Also assisting is the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, states the HPD press release.

State Street from Jefferson to Wigton streets was closed to traffic for hours as well as Wood Street from Dryden to Courtland streets, said Hart Police Chief Juan Salazar.

“We were told everybody was out, but for a while there we thought two people were still inside,” said White. “But they got out.”

Frigid temperatures in the low 20s didn’t help matters as firefighters encountered a frozen hydrant upon arrival. “The frozen hydrant delayed getting a water supply,” White said.

“When we got here, the fire was impinging upon a house next door,” he said. Fortunately, firefighters were able to prevent the second house from catching fire.

It took more than an hour to get the fire “knocked down” and under control, White said.

“The fire was through the roof when we got here,” the chief said.

It was not immediately known if the building is insured.

The first 911 call came from inside the burning house, he said. A second 911 call came from a neighbor’s house.

An excavator has been called to the scene to clean up the debris, and White said he expected fire crews to remain on scene until this afternoon.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.



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