07/20/09 — House fire deemed suspicious

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House fire deemed suspicious

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on July 20, 2009 1:46 PM

PRINCETON -- The Wayne County Sheriff's Office is investigating a "suspicious fire" at a Luby Smith Road home that was completely destroyed on Sunday morning.

Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said that a home owned by Kevin Berube, at 863 Luby Smith Road, had been up for sale after being vacant for about a year and a half.

Berube, who now lives in Palm Springs, Fla., told authorities he was asleep on his back deck when he was awoke to find the house on fire.

The homeowner reported he had returned from Florida to make repairs to his home, Effler said.

Authorities responded to the initial call about the fire just after 7 a.m. on Sunday, he said.

Both the State Bureau of Investigation and the Sheriff's Office are investigating the fire as "suspicious," authorities familiar with the case said.

Volunteer firefighters from the Oakland, Rosewood and Little River department responded and fought the fire, which caused about $300,000 in damages to the structure and contents, authorities said.

Effler said the home was so badly damaged that investigation inside the home was impossible without special equipment.

"The house is so terribly destroyed that it's unsafe at this time for us to go into all areas of it, even though they (firefighters) did what they could," the captain said.

The Sheriff's Office captain said that it would be up to the insurance company to decide if the special equipment needed to investigate inside the home would be used.

The fire raged for some time, and Effler said.

"It kept on firing back up last night, they were still getting hot spots out," Effler said. "So they were out there for at least a good 12 hours."