UPDATE: Police investigating Jackson house fire as arson

UPDATE: (6:00 p.m.)

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s a fire that tore through a Jackson family’s home, killing pets and injuring firefighters.

And now investigators say it may have been started on purpose.

Friday morning, the Jackson Police Department released a statement saying investigators believe Thursday’s house fire on Pringle Avenue could be arson.

Neighbors on Jackson’s east side were shocked to hear the house fire on their block is possibly the work of an arsonist.

“Yeah that’s pretty scary. Especially with the kids out here,” said neighbor Walter Harold.

“Why would someone do that to somebody’s home? It’s scary. If they can do it them, they can do it to us,” said neighbor Beth Schuler.

When the fire broke out Thursday afternoon, neighbors called 911 and checked to make sure no one was inside.

When crews arrived they found a fast-moving fire.

“The investigation is indicating there was an accelerant most likely used,” said Chief Elmer Hitt of Jackson Police and Fire Services.

Investigators say it appears the fire started near the front door and spread quickly.

Three cats and two dogs perished in the fire.

Two firefighters on the scene suffered minor injuries and were taken to the hospital.

Chief Hitt says the fire is suspicious and is being investigated as arson.

“People are motivated for different reasons. At this point, it’s too early in the investigation to know. We do have investigators out there right now continuing to investigate,” Hitt said.

The residents, Nikki Joly and his partner, Chris, were not home when the fire started.

Joly recently appeared on 6 News as an organizer of the first ever LGBT pride event in Jackson.

He’s also a well-known advocate for Jackson’s gay community.

Police say it’s too early to tell why their house was targeted.

Joly told 6 News Friday morning that they’re still processing what happened and are waiting to find out more from police.

“Be patient and let the investigation run its course. And we’re going to have a lot of time dedicated to trying to solve this and figure out,” Hitt said.

If you have any information that can help police with their investigation or saw anything suspicious in the neighborhood Thursday afternoon contact the Jackson Police Department at 517-788-4100 or Crime Stoppers at  517-483-STOP.

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UPDATE (7:45 a.m.) – The fire that gutted a Jackson house is now being investigated as an arson.

The Jackson Police and Michigan State Police Fire Investigators are working together at the scene.

Fire fighters were called to the 1800 block of Pringle Avenue just after 1 p.m. Thursday.

When they arrived they found the front of the house on fire. No one was home at the time but two dogs and three cats died in the fire.

This investigation continues to develop and this story will be updated online and on 6 News.

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) –A fast-moving fire destroyed a family’s home on Jackson’s east side Thursday afternoon.

“We were just unable to catch up to it,” said Assistant Chief Chris Ermatinger of the Jackson Fire Department.

Four local fire departments rushed to the house on Pringle Avenue shortly after 2 p.m. after neighbors saw heavy smoke and flames.

“Crews made a very aggressive attack on it and worked for approximately 50 to 55 minutes on the fire before we went defensive on it,” Ermatinger said.

The assistant fire chief says it appears the fire started near the front door and spread quickly.

“The fire had gotten into the walls and into the attic where we were unable to get to it,” Ermatinger said.

Three cats and two dogs died in the fire.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital and are now recovering.

A Jackson firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and a Blackman-Leoni Township firefighter hurt his ankle.

“The residents are okay. They were not home at the time and the American Red Cross is helping them out,” Ermatinger said.

Once the fire is completely out and the smoke has cleared, investigators will search for what started the blaze.

“It’s under investigation right now. So the Jackson Fire Department and the Jackson Police Department will be working on this investigation,” Ermatinger said.

As of Thursday afternoon, investigators could not say if the fire appeared to be suspicious or not because they could not safely access the house.

If you saw anything in the neighborhood that can help police with their investigation, contact the Jackson Police Department at (517) 788-4100.

6 News will continue to stay on top of the story and will give you updates when they become available.

We welcome thoughts and comments from our viewers. We ask that everyone keep their remarks civil and respectful. Postings that contain profanity, racist, or potentially libelous remarks will be deleted. We will delete any commercial postings, as well.

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