LIVONIA – A quick response by multiple fire departments saved a 1920’s-era house that serves as a temporary home for local people in need on Main Street on Saturday.
According to Livonia Fire Chief Paul Dwyer, the fire started in the basement when a contractor accidentally drilled into an electrical line while trying to install a furnace at about 11:28 a.m. and every procedure followed smoothly to endure the safety of the vulnerable wooden structure.
“Livonia came in first and Assistant Chief Rich Alexander reported smoke and flames coming from the basement,” said Dwyer. “Our protocol for this area is to call three districts, Livonia, Hemlock and Lakeville, who all responded very quickly. The electrical service to the house burned and fell off, de-energizing the the fire. We shut off the power, wet everything down, opened the wall and checked to see if the fire had spread to the first floor, which it didn’t.”
Witnesses said that the electrical lines were sparking and popping before firefighters arrived.
“There were sparks flying up from where the chimney joins the house, almost as tall as me,” said neighbor Michelle Donivan. “One person heard the loud popping and thought it was a shooter. My house is right here across the road, so I thought ‘uh oh, I better get home and maybe turn off my electricity.'”
Kevin Niedermaier, Director of the Livingston County Office of Emergency Management, said that the house’s material and architecture makes it vulnerable to fire.
“It was a good save,” said Niedermaier. “It’s an old-style house, balloon frame, made of old dry wood. Once fire gets in the walls it can spread very, very quickly. What little damage did result is contained to the basement, with just smoke damage upstairs.”
Livonia Methodist Church Pastor Daniel Finch, who also happens to be a Livonia firefighter, thanked the fire department for their quick response.
“We’re so grateful for our firefighters, they’re the bravest people we know,” said Rev. Finch. “They did a fine and professional job, as we expected.”
Firefighters with the Livonia, Hemlock, Lakeville, and East Avon Fire Departments responded to the scene alongside a Livonia Ambulance, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, and the Livingston County Office of Emergency Management.