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GRFD confirms child playing with fire caused West Side blaze

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- A child playing with a lighter caused the July 24 fire at an apartment building on the West Side of Grand Rapids.

The Grand Rapids Fire Department announced Wednesday that its investigators confirmed that cause, which was suspected by residents as they watched fire fighters battle the blaze at 648 Fourth St. NW.

As the child involved played with the lighter, flames traveled into the building's rear well and into the attic, authorities said.

The fire gutted the nine-unit building and left 18 people homeless.

The Grand Rapids Fire Department says the West Michigan Fire Match program offers intervention for kids who experiment with fire.

Firefighters try to determine what caused apartment fire

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Late Thursday, fire crews battled an apartment blaze in Grand Rapids, across the street from the Basilica of Saint Adalbert. Eighteen residents of the nine-unit complex lost their homes. No resident was hurt, but the building was a total loss.

Fire crews remained all night putting out hot spots and the building is now to unstable to enter. Residents are being asked to stay away.

Investigators have not determined the official cause of the fire but say they have heard reports that it may have been caused by a small boy was playing with fire by some stairs. We talked to neighbors who said that a young boy admitted to them that he had been playing with fire and that he had started a pile of leaves on fire.

Renee Coppes lives in a house next to the apartment and talked to us about her experience.

My Town: Tax-funded street improvements begin in Grand Rapids

My Town: Tax-funded street improvements begin in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The first of more than 50 street projects funded by a recent voter-approved tax renewal will begin Friday.

The city commission has approved two contracts for more than $4.2 million in road repairs.  Contractors will begin grinding down and resurfacing Buckley Street from LaGrave Avenue to Jefferson Avenue and Lafayette Avenue from Pleasant Street to Wealthy Street on July 25.  Those projects are expected to wrap up Aug. 6, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the corner of Buckley Street and Jefferson Avenue scheduled for Aug. 7 at 11 a.m.  The remaining street project schedule is as follows:


 Sheldon Avenue

Sycamore Street to Haifley Place

Aug. 4 – Aug. 13

Sheldon Avenue

Homeless man sentenced in murder of another

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- David Eaton will spend five to 30 years in prison for the killing last July of another homeless Grand Rapids man, Steven Spadorcia.

Eaton, 69, was defiant at his sentencing before Judge Dennis Leiber. "It's not fair," Eaton said, maintaining his assault on Spadorcia was fueled by his drunken anger over Spadorcia's rape of a homeless female mutual friend.

"His (Spadorcia's) death wouldn't have happened if he hadn't did what he did first," Eaton told Judge Leiber.

Prosecutors contend no rape ever occurred.

GRPS sends layoff notices to 90

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Grand Rapid Public School District is sending layoff notices to 90 staff members this week.

The notices come as the district is projecting another year of declining enrollment. This year, the district predicts 400 fewer students will return in the fall. Still, the layoffs and projected decline in population is not as drastic as in year's past.

A GRPS spokesperson tells us the layoffs are the smallest they've had in years and the administration is confident many of the positions will be called back.

Police: Suspect bites officer in scuffle

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A Grand Rapids police officer was hurt after a suspect bit him during an arrest. The incident happened at about 2:45 p.m. Friday at Leonard and Tamarack NW.

Police say an undercover officer, along with an undercover FBI agent approached a suspect in a home invasion. When they asked if the man was armed, he said 'yes' and the officers began to take him into custody. The suspect began combative and bit the Grand Rapids officer.

The officer is said to have a "pretty serious" bite wound. The suspect was taken away on a stretcher.

My Town: Grand Valley State University approves tuition hike

My Town: Grand Valley State University approves tuition hike

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—  Students will have to pay more to attend Grand Valley State University next year.

Last Friday, GVSU’s Board of Trustees approved raising tuition rates by approximately three percent.  The increase means students will pay $298 more per academic year, bringing annual tuition to $10,752 for a full-time undergraduate Michigan resident.

GVSU says the tuition increase is the lowest it’s approved in a decade.  The budget also includes a three percent wage increase for faculty and staff members and a  $3.1 million increase in student scholarships and grants, bringing the student financial aid budget to $38 million.