The Dexter Area Fire Department received a call for not one, but three separate fires at adjacent structures on Winston Road in Dexter Township on the shore of Portage Lake and a stone’s throw from Little Portage Lake.
The call came in at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, by which time the fire had spread rapidly enough that in addition to three separate homes being ablaze, three other homes were fire damaged as well, according to Fire Chief Robert Smith.
Despite the rapid spread of the fire, nobody was harmed. The three fire damaged structures appeared as it they would require significant repairs, although Smith said that would be up to insurance adjustors.
“There was a little bit of wind that night off of the lake that caused the fire to move faster,” Smith said.
DAFD immediately requested support from mutual aid providers, which summoned fire departments from Hamburg, Howell, Unadilla, Putnam, Chelsea, Scio, Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township.
DAFD sent all three on-duty personnel and every piece of equipment from both the main station at 8140 Main Street in downtown Dexter, as well as the new Dexter Township substation. Those assets were met by all paid on-call firefighters on the department’s call list.
Fire crews were hampered by issues with burning electrical power lines and exposed natural gas pipes, due to the houses largely being burned to the ground so quickly.
“Once the buildings burned down the natural gas flowed freely,” Smith said.
The firefighting effort spanned four hours, much of which was spent waiting for utility crews to arrive on the scene to cut power and cap gas pipes.
“For this particular situation there were wires that were compromised … not knowing where they are (in the debris) we couldn’t start getting in until the utilities are cut,” Smith explained. ”
Smith said Thursday morning that they are still working on the report and the investigation is ongoing.