GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Two people late Tuesday night escaped a house fire that firefighters are calling suspicious.
Firefighters at the scene told 24 Hour News 8 they received a call just before midnight that a neighbor saw flames coming from the windows of the house in the 1000 block of Lafayette Avenue SE.
By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, the house was fully engulfed. Dozens of firefighters in more than 10 vehicles responded to fight the fire. They were able to keep the flames from spreading to surrounding houses.
A Wednesday afternoon release said the fire may have started on the main floor of the house and spread ot the attic.
The house where the fire originated is a total loss.
Investigators have not said why they believe the fire is suspicious or how it may have started.
"I am not at liberty to discuss that right now. It's under investigation," said GRFD Battalion Chief Dan Caillouet.
"We did have the MSP ignitable liquid canine team here and he did not hit on anything," said GRFD Fire Investigator Ric Doktor.
But that alone does not rule out arson.
"We are still looking at basically everything," said Doktor.
Neighbors say the fire makes an already-blighted neighborhood even worse. Ed Cook lives nearby and now has two burned out houses to view on his daily walk.
"When it look like this, ain't nobody care about it. Everybody overlook everything around this area," he said.
In December 2011, a family escaped as another home in the neighborhood burned. That home is still vacant with a demolition order stuck on what was a front door.
Ed Cook worries about property values and about who might get into those two houses.
"Kids are very curious," he said. "They get up in there, you know, something falls on them, and they're gone."
It is the property owner's responsibility to repair or raze a burned-out home. The city said there is often no insurance or a property owner can't be located, so eventually the city has to clean up the mess.
But a lot of properties are sold after they are destroyed. If that happens, the clock resets and they can just sit there for years.
Vehicles occupied by a sheriff's deputy and a Michigan State Police motor carrier officer were hit.
A fire damaged three garages and some homes in a Grand Haven neighborhood early Thursday morning.
The suspects stole cash and fled the scene.