Michigan Crews Respond to Alleged Arson

On Saturday Aug. 2, at 6:40 a.m., Bay County, Michigan Central Dispatch started receiving numerous phone calls reporting a structure fire in the 400 Block of N. Farragut St. on Bay City's near east side. The structure was reported to be an older Victorian style home.

Upon leaving Bay City's Fire Station #1 approximately one mile north of the scene, Bay City Assistant Chief Ed Cotto (Car 103) reported a large plume of smoke visible. When the firefighters arrived on the scene, they reported a large structure heavily involved in fire. Neighbors immediately told them that they believed that the residents were inside including the mother, father and two children.

Firefighters immediately forced entry into the first floor through the front door. They had an 1 3/4 inch attack line and were able to quickly knock the visible fire on the first floor. Upon trying to enter the stairwell to the second floor, firefighters found heavy smoke and fire.

After fighting their way up the stairwell, firefighters started a primary search of the second floor. They quickly came across the body of the father. Upon turning the body over they found a heavy amount of blood on the mattress. He was immediately removed through a second floor window and once on the ground he was found to have a large stab wound to the chest area. He was also in cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead on the scene.

While the husband was being removed a second crew discovered the body of the wife. Her body showed signs of heavy trauma, and she also was in cardiac arrest. Once removed, she was also declared deceased.

While the two adults were being removed, other firefighters were continuing the primary search looking for the two children.

Suddenly, a large section of the second floor ceiling and part of the roof collapsed. At that point, the firefighters were ordered to immediately evacuate the structure.

It was learned later that the two children neighbors had told firefighters about were adults, and were not in the structure.

The fire completely engulfed the upper part of the home. Firefighters had to go into a defensive mode using two ladder towers and several hand lines to try to control the fire.

Investigation by the Bay City Police Department, assisted by the Michigan State Police crime lab specialists, determined that the family was having serious financial problems. They said the fire had been intentionally set in three different spots.

It appeared that the husband had first killed his wife, set the fires, and returned to the upstairs bedroom. He then proceeded to commit suicide by stabbing himself with a large kitchen knife, investigators reported.

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