Family reacts after Muskegon Heights arson

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of a woman whose Muskegon Heights home was set on fire is reacting to the situation. The teen who allegedly set the elderly woman’s house on fire Saturday night is in custody, police say.

The incident happened near Barney Avenue and Eighth Street. Fire crews say they got the call around 9 p.m. An officer who was in the area was the first on scene.

The officer arrived to find a woman on her front porch trying to get out. Family identified the woman as 88-year-old Tarlee Brooks. Brooks was transported to Mercy Hospital where she was treated for smoke inhalation.

Once fire crews arrived, they contained the flames and found then revived the family cat. They say witness tips led them to believe this fire was intentionally set. 

“It’s certain things you just don’t do,” said Stan Hudgins who’s the victim’s nephew. “Stop with the dumb stuff. Start thinking smart. Don’t just be out here doing stuff for a laugh because everything is not funny.”

Hudgins says his aunt has been a pillar to the community for more than 40 years. He says she is doing much better but is still shaken up about the incident.

“She let me know this was like the most scared she’s been all her life,” Hudgins said. “I’m just surprised that someone would even do something like this because she’s such a good woman. She’s always giving and helpful to everyone.”

Neighbors told News 8 crews they witnessed a group of boys shoot a flare gun into the window before the fire. News 8 cameras were there as police returned to the scene to pick up a flare gun Sunday afternoon. It was a block away from the home.

A flare gun that authorities and witnesses believe may have caused a house fire in Muskegon Heights. (Feb. 23, 2020)

Police have one person in custody. They have not released any information about the juvenile.

The family says they’re just grateful Brooks did not lose her life. They say the home is not livable currently. Brooks is now staying with family.

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