Archived Story

House fire ends Lola Dodson’s life

Published 6:45pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Lola Dodson, 71, who died in a fire at her home on Hendryx Street Tuesday night, was well-known to police and firefighters of the city Department of Public Safety.

The former manager of Riverside Apartments was “Miss Community when it came to public safety. She was a neat lady who did a lot for us,” DPS Director Tom Atkinson said.

Among her many contributions were summer picnics and holiday dinners bringing together tenants and officers of the Dowagiac Police Department.

She participated in the first Citizens Academy and CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team.

Riverside was built in 1986. Dodson arrived in 1993.

Atkinson presented her a plaque at the September 2005 picnic (“Dowagiac police losing their biggest booster,” stated the Daily News headline) in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, saying, “I’ve known Lola since I was a little bitty guy out at Indian Lake. It’s been a long-time friendship. If you looked in the dictionary for the definition of Neighborhood Watch, which refers to crime-prevention efforts in partnership with local law enforcement, there would be a picture of Lola Dodson.”

Deputy Fire Chief Guy Evans reported fire personnel were dispatched at 10:57 p.m. Aug. 28 to a fire inside a residence in the 100 block of Hendryx.

The first engine arrived on the scene at 11:01 to find heavy smoke.

Fire personnel, assisted by police officers, were able to rescue the unconscious homeowner from the burning residence. She was transported by Pride Care ambulance service to Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital and later pronounced dead as a result of smoke inhalation from the fire.

Evans said a joint investigation into the cause of the fire by DPS personnel and the Michigan State Police Fire Marshal’s Office indicated the blaze was accidental, starting in a kitchen trash container and possibly caused by discarded smoking materials.

The victim was able to summon help via a medical alert monitoring service, which alerted Cass County Central Dispatch.

Dodson was alone in the residence. Working smoke detectors were not present.

Dowagiac Fire Rescue and city police were assisted on scene by Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Wayne Township Fire Department.

Pride Care provided additional personnel and resources at the scene for firefighter safety and rehab. Fire personnel remained at the scene until about 1 a.m.



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