Norton Shores. Courtesy Jen Pruitt. (Feb. 9, 2013)
UPDATE - MONDAY, 4 P.M.
NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WZZM) - Fire investigators are waiting until Wednesday to resume their search for the cause of the fire at a Muskegon County apartment complex. Authorities are trying to find out why a manual fire alarm did not sound when activated early Saturday morning.
The fire destroyed 12 units and another 12 were damaged by smoke and water.
No one was hurt but more than a dozen people were forced to leave their homes.
NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WZZM) -- Investigators are trying to determine why hallway fire alarms failed when a resident pulled them during an apartment fire in Norton Shores Saturday.
Rod Lewis spotted the flames at Lake Forest Apartments around 1:15 a.m., while driving home from work.
"I tried to alert people and then [I] called the authorities by calling 911. Seconds later, it started to more or less show through the roof," he says.
It took crews three hours to put out the fire, which destroyed half of a 24 unit building.
The Norton Shores Fire Department won't determine the fire's cause until a full investigation starts on Monday, but the deputy fire chief says the fire started in building J, in the same area as a space heater fire about nine hours earlier. He says a resident in building J tried to pull two hallway fire alarms, but they didn't go off.
The apartment complex manager says the top units in the three-story building were destroyed, while apartments on the other two levels were damaged by smoke and water.
Jennifer and Mike Tucker just moved into one of the first floor units Friday.
"We were signing our lease as the fire department was leaving the space heater fire," said Jennifer.
The Tuckers had only moved in some clothes and small items when the second fire started. No one was injured in the blaze, however, two dogs had to be rescued.
"We were just worried about the people that were here," said Mike Tucker. "So we just feel really blessed."
Tenants of 24 units were displaced, but after firefighters deemed an adjacent building structurally safe, residents of 12 units were allowed back in Saturday night. Red Cross volunteers say the remaining displaced tenants are staying with relatives or in hotels.
The apartment complex manager says the fire caused an estimated $750,000 in damage. Some residents say they did not have renters insurance.