BATTLE CREEK, Mich. ( April 9, 2014) — Spring has finally sprung, and a lot of homeowners are starting to clean yards in west Michigan.
Already in the season, two deaths have occurred in just three days linked to brush fires. This has authorities warning people to use caution.
Police said that a 93-year-old man was burning leaves in his yard, when his riding lawnmower caught fire and eventually took his life.
Neighbors we spoke with said that they did what they could to help.
Wednesday’s deadly brush fire happen in the backyard of a home on South Minges Road in Battle Creek just before 4 p.m.
Family and friends identified that man as Louie Ling. Ling was married 72 years, a World War II vet and father of four.
Neighbor Jan Vanderwall said that she had arrived home just moments before the deadly fire.
“We were out by our barn out back and we had just gotten home, and then I heard fire sirens. So, I started walking out toward the road to see what was going on,” said Vanderwall.
Vanderwall said that she could see smoke spreading across the yard.
“I saw my neighbor running with a bucket and I walked out in to his yard, and I could see the fire,” said Vanderwall.
Ling’s son said that his father’s passion was keeping up his yard. Neighbors said that despite his age, he was always outside.
“Ever since he retired, he kept his yard so perfect. It was beautiful. He always had flowers everywhere and the nicest manicured yard in the entire neighborhood. He loved his yard,” said Vanderwall.
A couple hours later, there was another brush fire just five miles away. That fire also got out of hand behind a home on Lamson. A neighbor said that the fire started in another yard where the homeowner was also burning leaves. The owners of this house, we were told are on spring break vacation. Luckily fire crews knocked out the flames before they reached the home.
These fires come just two days after Michigan State Police say 70-year-old Roger Kludy from Hart was killed. He was severely burned after a brush fire got out of control in Oceana county.
The Michigan DNR has a map here where you can find the fire risk for your area.
You can also click here to find out if open burning is allowed in your county on any given day.