Man arrested in arsons near Mecosta-Montcalm county line

Montcalm County

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man has been arrested in connection to a series of arsons along the Mecosta-Montcalm county line early Monday morning, authorities say.

The suspect’s name was not released Monday night, but the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office said he is a 32-year-old from Howard City.

The suspect was taken to the Mecosta County Jail pending arraignment, which could happen as early as Tuesday. A brief release from the sheriff’s office said he faces multiple charges, but did not say precisely what those charges are.

There were three fires in Mecosta County’s Deerfield Township and one in Montcalm County Monday morning. It didn’t take authorities long to say they were believed to be connected and that they were likely the result of arson.

Mark Hansen, who lives on N. Green Road near Yankee Road south of Morley, told 24 Hour News 8 he woke up around 5 a.m. to find the mobile home next door was ablaze.

“It was a big orange glow,” he recalled. “I looked out the window and there’s this huge fire. Some of the trees were catching on fire. … It got big so fast. All of a sudden: poof. Almost like a bonfire when you throw gas on it,” he continued.

He said the man who lived in the trailer moved out about a year ago and it has been vacant since then.

In addition to the trailer, three barns burned. There were no reports of any people inside any of the buildings, but some animals were killed.

Linda Kranz lost turkeys and cats when her barn went up in flames.

“It was huge. Flames were as tall as the silo,” she described. “We went and stepped out of the house and you could feel the heat.”

Firefighters were called to her property on Washington Road near 137th Avenue in Deerfield Township, east of Morley, shortly before 5 a.m. They woke the Kranz family and saved them from the fire. 

“There was a fire truck in the driveway and they already had hoses out spraying towards the barn, so we were fortunate that they came when they did,” Kranz said.

The fire was a second setback. One month ago, their barn was damaged by a tornado. The family was hoping to finish repairs Monday, but instead will have to start over.

There are also reports of fires near the intersections of 150th Avenue and Washington Road as well as 160th Avenue and N. County Line Road.

The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office said it worked with Michigan State Police, Big Rapids police, the Michigan Department of Corrections and area fire departments to identify the suspect and make an arrest.

Authorities originally told 24 Hour News 8 that there were five fires, but later said there were only four.

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