No one injured in fire

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Niles City and Niles Township fire departments were quick to respond to a structure fire Tuesday morning near the intersection of Regent and 10th streets. No one was hurt.

The fire was located in the garage of a residence in the 100 block of North 10th Street.

Firefighters were called to the scene at approximately 9:37 a.m. by a neighboring residence. The owner of the home was asleep when the fire department arrived, Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb said. Crews battled the fire for about an hour.

“The tenant had dogs in the garage,” Lamb said. “And to keep them warm, he was using a space heater inside the dog house.

“Basically the fire seems to point to that space heater,” he said.

Once on scene, Lamb said, heavy flames were visible from the garage, and firefighters quickly acted to keep the fire from neighboring structures. The main house was just off the garage to the west and a neighboring home was just about a foot away to the east.

“We were able to contain the fire to the garage,” Lamb said. He speculated the garage is a total loss and said very limited damage was done to the house, though “(the fire) was just moments away from extending over to the house itself.”

Emergency personnel from the Niles City and Niles Township fire departments coordinated efforts to control the fire. Niles police and the Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service also reported to the scene.

“It’s another good example of Niles City and Niles Township working together,” Lamb said, referring to an automatic aid agreement between the two jurisdictions.

Together, Lamb said, “we use our resources effectively.

“This was quickly controlled by the three units we had responding,” he said.

Lamb also stressed the need to exercise caution when using space heaters during the colder months, saying it is important to keep at least “three feet of space around heating sources. They’re still causing heat and the heat (can cause) fire.”

It’s especially important to be cautious when keeping heating sources near anything like straw, dust, carpeting or paper.

“That increases the hazard,” Lamb said.

Lamb also said citizens can help keep themselves and their neighbors safe by making sure sidewalks, driveways and the areas surrounding fire hydrants are well-cleared “because that helps speed up our response.”

Two of the residence’s dogs were in the home at the time of the fire; a third escaped the garage to the back yard.