No injuries in house fire in Chelsea





By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

At 6:24 p.m. on Apr. 10 the Chelsea Area Fire Authority (CAFA) received a call about a house fire at the corner of Washington and Madison.

Four minutes later, CAFA and neighboring departments were on site.

Once extinguished, the garage of the house, the two vehicles in and next to the garage, and the house were all total losses. CAFA Chief Robert Arbini told The Sun Times he wasn’t sure what would happen with the house, but it had very extensive damage. 

One male, David Walker, was in the house at the time, he’s fine and had no injuries, according to Arbini. He is now staying at a relative’s house in the area. 

“It’s still undetermined but we have a strong feeling it was caused by a space heater in the garage,” said Arbini. “You can never really determine it because of not being inside the garage, but the space heater was on at one point and he backed his car into the garage and didn’t remember if he turned it off or not.”

Neighboring departments from Dexter, Scio township, Stockbridge, and Ann Arbor township, city services, the Chelsea police department, Huron Valley Ambulance, and HART all were on scene to assist fighting the fire. Arbini told The Sun Timeswind played a factor in helping or hurting them doing their job. 

“Considering the way, it was set up as far as the flame hitting the house, the garage, the car next door, our crews did a nice job getting things going,” said Arbini. “For the most part we did a good job, a couple of injuries sustained to our firefighters, minor burns, but overall everyone’s pretty good.” 

Upon arrival, the fire department threw up a hose line for an exposed garage directly next door and saved it, although it did take damage.

On Apr. 11, Arbini and the CAFA were on the scene to contribute to their final report, from there it’s between the insurance company and homeowner.

On Apr. 12 a GoFundMe had been established for David Walker by his daughter in law, Shelly Rutledge-Walker with a posted statement for the cause.

“On April 10th, 2019 my father-in-law, Aram (David) Walker, experienced the devastation of losing his home to a fire. He and his wife Debbie, who passed away a year ago, raised their 4 children there.  I married into the family 23 years ago and quickly learned how important David and Debbie were to their family and to many others.  Their home provided a safe place to stay, when needed, as well as lots of happy memories.  Countless children have played in their yard and sat in the kitchen eating lunch as a part of Debbie’s daycare. My own children, and their cousins, have so many great memories from visiting.  Nothing can replace the items that represent those memories or what makes a house a home.  However, our hope is to raise some money for David as he has lost everything, including both of his vehicles.”

“He still is in shock, we all are,” said Dena Walker Sommer, his daughter, on Apr. 15. “He’s pretty much going through the motions of things, he did try and go to the Chelsea Expo this weekend to do a couple of things but is still in shock at this point.”

Right now, the family is still trying to figure out if there are companies that come in and take pieces of things, if they take them to clean them or if the family has to gather them and take them somewhere.

Sommer told The Sun Times they would meeting with the insurance company to find out more but were looking to salvage what they could.

“The most important part, the firefighters all safe, and he’s safe,” said Sommer. “We still gave our memories, just not all the special pieces.”





Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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