HOLLAND TWP. (WWJ/AP) – Damage from a southwest Michigan apartment complex fire believed to have been sparked by a resident trying to cook a squirrel with a propane torch is estimated at $1.4 million.

Debra Spohn, senior vice president of the apartment complex’s parent company, said the company plans to hold the former resident involved responsible for the building’s $10,000 insurance deductible. She says cooking isn’t allowed on outside patios.

“We have to require that residents help protect us from a loss such as this,” Spohn told The Holland Sentinel. “You can be a very responsible resident, but your neighbor may cause a fire and cause something like this.”

Spohn said the resident, whose name was not released, will have 30 days after receiving a demand letter to make arrangements for the $10,000.

Officials have said the resident apparently planned to eat the animal and was burning off its fur on a third-floor deck at the building in Ottawa County’s Holland Township when the fire broke out Oct. 10.

Investigators said the blaze was ruled accidental.

Although the fire displaced 29 families, no residents were injured. A responding firefighter broke a toe.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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