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Groveland Township family loses dog, home to fire



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May 25, 2011 - Groveland Twp.- A township family lost a beloved pet and are staying with friends after a fire in the early morning hours of May 19 destroyed their home and everything in it.

Despite the tragedy, Jeff McLanson feels fortunate.

"We're lucky, we have a lot of great friends and people we don't even know have been supportive," he said.

The power went out at the McLanson home in the 1300 block of Bald Eagle Lake Road at around 8:30 p.m., May 18 while Jeff McLanson was picking up his children from church. Jeff and his wife, Jenny, have four children— Justin, 19, a student at Oakland Community College; Jordan, 17, and Jessica, 15, students at Brandon High School; and Jamie, 9, a Harvey Swanson Elementary student. When the power came back on at around 12:20 a.m., the three oldest children were in their bedrooms in the basement of the ranch-style home, while Jeff and Jenny were upstairs with Jenny's mother, Alice, who lives with them. Alice uses an oxygen unit and needed someone to hook her up. Suddenly, Jenny noticed smoke and saw a flickering light in the basement.

"The big screen television was on fire," recalls Jeff. "Jenny was hollering for me... I went downstairs to try and put it out, but there was nothing I could do."

Jeff and Jenny awakened their children in the walk-out basement and got them out, and Jeff managed to get up the stairs while Jenny ran outside and around to the upper level. She got their youngest child out while Jeff helped Alice out of the house, then ran to the neighbor's house to get them to call 9-1-1. Misty, one of the family's two dogs, had followed them out of the house, but their older dog Hunter, a mixed breed, had not. Jeff tried to get back in the house, but the fire had become too intense and smoke made it impossible. The dog perished.

Groveland, Brandon, Springfield and Atlas firefighters all responded to the blaze, and were at the scene for about five hours. The home and its contents were a total loss. The cause of the fire is undetermined.

The McLansons have been staying with good friends in the area.

"We are grateful for all the love and support from our friends, family, and the community," said Jeff. "Our church has been incredible, getting people signed up to bring us food. People have given us clothes, it's overwhelming. I would like to thank our neighbors for their efforts that night and also appreciate the ones who have mowed the grass for us. People are stepping up all over the place and it's much appreciated."

They are also grateful to Autumn Ridge, an assisted living facility that has taken in Alice for now. The McLansons have insurance and are currently looking for a home to rent for six months.

Hillside Bible Church is accepting donations for the family. Checks can be made payable to Jeff or Jenny McLanson and sent to Hillside Bible Church, 173 Church St., Ortonville, MI 48462.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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