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City praises quick fire response

August 23, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Houghton officials praised the emergency and community response to the Aug. 17 Heritage Manor fire at Wednesday night's City Council meeting.

Police Chief John Donnelly said firefighters had rescued four people off the fifth floor alone. Local fire and police departments and other groups also helped ensure other residents got out safely.

"You have a fire in a five-story senior citizens' home without a sprinkler system, and everybody and every pet makes it out of there," he said. "It's truly amazing."

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Houghton Police Chief John Donnelly reports on the Aug. 17 fire at Heritage Manor during Wednesday’s Houghton City Council meeting. Officials and council members praised the response from emergency personnel and community members.

Donnelly thanked the community for its support, including Pigs-N-Heat for the donation of $12,000 cash by Friday evening.

"Some of those people were the people that needed the cash most as far as I can remember in Pigs-N-Heat history," he said.

Donnelly said he and Houghton Fire Chief Mike Reynolds would meet to come up with a list of people and groups to recognize.

"There were some truly heroic acts - not just one step above, but above and beyond," he said.

The Apothecary, Shopko and Walmart teamed up to get patients' medications, Donnelly said.

One hundred forty Michigan Technological University students will be helping retrieve possessions from the residents' apartments this morning.

City Manager Scott MacInnes said there has been a follow-up meeting to discuss what could be learned or improved from the fire response. Hancock and Calumet have had similar meetings, he said.

"We were very well-prepared for this one," he said.

Department of Public Works Supervisor Mark Zenner said a rosary box had been recovered from the inside of one of the hardest-hit rooms unscathed.

"You opened it up, and her rosaries were in this box," he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Robert Megowen, also a member of the fire department, said he had talked about the response with former Fire Chief Jim Lightfoot.

"In his 40 years and my 30 years (with the department), we've never seen anything like it," he said.

Donations of the following items are being accepted: food; toiletries (tissues, toilet paper, soap); new bedding for twin-size beds; hand towels and bath towels; pillows; pet food (cats and dogs); garbage bags; storage containers; tarps; silverware; and TVs.

Donations can be dropped off from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at Lakeview Manor, 1401 West Quincy St., in Hancock. For more information, call 482-3252. Items can be brought to the community room.

Monetary donations can also still be sent to the Houghton City Center c/o the Houghton Housing Commission, 616 Shelden Ave., Houghton, MI 49931.



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