HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) - A Holland Township resident was cooking a squirrel on his balcony and accidentally set his apartment building on fire. Dozens of people at Clearview Apartments in Holland Township lost everything in Wednesday's fire.
WZZM 13'S Alex Shabad lives at a neighboring building and he says the Clearview rental agreement clearly states that grilling on the balcony is not allowed.
The charred remains outside the Clearview Apartment building only reveals some of the damage.
"There's probably a lot of water damage down below," says Jeremy Hoekwater, Operations Manager for Servpro.
Servpro is a company that helps residents clean up after a fire. Hoekwater got a call for help from one lady at the apartment for water damage, but the problem is no one is allowed inside the building yet.
"The water's going to keep causing problems, as it absorbs into the materials, " says Hoekwater.
WZZM 13's Alex Shabad showed his neighboring building to Hoekwater. Inside the apartment, Shabad says the strong smell of smoke is fading, but he still wanted someone to check for soot. Hoekwater used a special dry cleaning sponge near the windows and doors.
"If this (the sponge) were black, you'd know soot came over from the wind," says Hoekwater.
Hoekwater gave the apartment the all clear. However, the fire left 29 families without a home. Many of them are just now learning that the fire was caused by a neighbor, who was using a propane flame torch to cook a squirrel and eat it.
"I don't know how many people who do that to a squirrel. It's odd, definitely odd, and unfortunate that it created this," says Martha Reidsma, who was displaced by the fire.
Meanwhile, neighbors outside of Clearview Apartments are coming with food and support.
"We unfortunately saw the building go up in flames and this was an opportunity to serve our neighbors," says one lady from the North Point Apartments.
The Red Cross says everyone who was forced out of their home is now staying with friends and family or at another building with empty space at the Clearview Apartments.