(1-28-20) On January 28, 2020 at 3:01PM, the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety responded to 1297 Superior St. on a report of a structure fire. It was reported by multiple callers that heavy black smoke and flames were shooting out of the windows. BHDPS arrived one scene a short time later and discovered the home was engulfed in thick smoke and flames. The smoke emanating from the house was so thick that there was zero visibility while standing in the yard. A haze of smoke covered the area for several blocks.
There was a large amount of contents inside the home that made it impossible to attack the fire from the inside. Additionally, there was also a large amount of junk and debris outside of the house in the yard. The plethora of contents inside fueled the fire and caused the heavy smoke that was emanating from the structure. Off-duty firefighters were called in to assist.
Due to the obstacles to effectively combat the fire inside or out of the structure, City Manager Ellis Mitchell authorized an emergency demolition order to allow firefighters to finally be able to extinguish the blaze. Meeks Construction was called and arrived on scene at approximately 5:00 PM to demolition of the house. The back portion of the house was first torn down which allowed firefighters to hit the hotspots that were previously unreachable. The structure was ultimately razed to the ground and the fire extinguished.
The sole occupant was not at home at the time of the fire and is safe. However, his dog unfortunately perished in the fire.
The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the homeowner with food and shelter due to the loss of everything he owned.
BHDPS cleared the scene at approximately 6:10 PM.