A house fire Friday destroyed the 150-year-old home that 80-year-old Larry Allen was born and raised in on Clarks Corners Road in Lapeer.
The fire was reported at 8:54 a.m. When Cortlandville Fire Department arrived at 9:09 a.m., the entire building was engulfed in flames, said Marathon Fire Chief Norm Forrest, whose units arrived soon after.
Allen had escaped the home before fire engines arrived and no one was injured. Pieces of melted insulation clung to his shoulders and ash darkened his face as he gathered with his family down the road while firefighters from Marathon, Cortlandville, Harford, Virgil and Killawog extinguished the flames — just hot spots remained by 9:45 a.m.
“The chimney started smoking and then the outside exploded,” Allen said. The upstairs room, where his grandchildren usually stay, caught fire first. Allen tried to put it out himself before getting out.
Without a landline or cell phone service, Allen was unable to call for help. “He didn’t have service so he got in his car and drove to my house,” said Brad Allen, Larry Allen’s son, who lives nearby on Quail Hollow Road.
They returned to the property before firefighters arrived and noted the house was almost fully engulfed. They waited about eight minutes for the first fire department to arrive, Brad Allen said.
The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home was built in 1865 and Larry Allen has lived there since 1941. His family has stayed local, aside from his youngest daughter, to the point of owning properties less than two miles away.
“I was born in that house,” Allen said. “There were nine of us (siblings).”
The Allen Farm barn, also owned by Allen, across the street from his home was struck by lightning in 2009 and burned; it was rebuilt in 2011. Between the two properties, he owns 380 acres that he uses to raise beef cattle.