‘The father went back’ -- Man in Eaton Township house fire fighting for his life, may have saved daughter

“In my 33 years of service I haven’t seen that much devastation from a blast.”
Father in Eaton Township house fire in critical condition
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 1:18 PM EST
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Update: Father who risked his life to save daughter in Eaton County house fire dies

EATON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - News 10 has learned more about the house fire that injured a father and daughter on Tuesday.

Multiple fire departments responded to the scene in the area of South Stewart Road after the call for help went out early Tuesday afternoon. When emergency responders arrived, they say they found the back of the home fully engulfed in flames.

Neighbors told News 10 they heard a loud explosion that rattled the windows of nearby homes. When they came outside, a column of smoke was rising from the house. Charlotte Fire Department Chief Robert Vogel said it was one of the toughest he’s ever seen.

A neighbor sent News 10 this photo of a fire that broke out in a Eaton Township home. March 1,...
A neighbor sent News 10 this photo of a fire that broke out in a Eaton Township home. March 1, 2022(WILX)

“It was a very unique call. In my 33 years of service I haven’t seen that much devastation from a blast,” Vogel said. “The back of the house had been blown apart and was on fire. The fire was spreading to the front of the house. We had to deal with the adult male, who was severely burned.”

Vogel says the man who was in the home is fighting for his life now after suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 60% of his body. He’s receiving treatment in the burn unit of a Grand Rapids Hospital.

Background: Video -- Two injured in Eaton Township house fire

His 4-year-old daughter was also in the home at the time of the explosion, but somehow crawled to safety.

“We believe that after the blast the adult male was thrown from the building. The young child then tried to crawl out of the building,” Vogel said. “The father went back-- he was engulfed in flames-- and assisted his young daughter to get out of the house.”

Authorities are still working to understand the order of events.

Vogel told News 10 that, despite the extent of damage to the home, the girl had only a few scratches. He added it was a miracle that she escaped with as little injuries as she did.

The man’s wife and two other children were not in the home at the time of the explosion.

Michigan State Police have ruled the cause of the explosion as unintentional.

“We relied on the Michigan State Police to do the investigation,” Vogel said. “I do know they ruled it as unintentional, as an accident, yesterday. We believe it was improper storage of a propane tank, but I’m still waiting on their final report.”

The family has lost their home and most of their possessions in the fire. They have a GoFundMe page set up for those that wish to help. Anyone interested in donating can do so on their DONATION PAGE.

More: Man suffers major burns after being thrown by Eaton County house explosion

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