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Lawsuit Sparked After Man Torches Squirrel, Causing Massive Apartment Blaze

A big oops may cost a Michigan woman more than $2 million.

Two civil lawsuits have been filed in a 2012 apartment complex fire that started after a man used a propane blow torch to singe fur from a squirrel he planned to cook. (Patch file photo)
Two civil lawsuits have been filed in a 2012 apartment complex fire that started after a man used a propane blow torch to singe fur from a squirrel he planned to cook. (Patch file photo)

In the history of bad ideas, what happened at a Holland Township apartment complex back in the fall of 2012 still has to be a contender for some sort of prize.

So, there was this guy who needed to singe the fur off a squirrel he had captured and planned to cook for dinner in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend. And a blow torch. And a plastic plant stand on the deck, where he placed the torch after the de-furring operating had taken place.

While the squirrel was sizzling, so was the plant stand. And soon the deck. And after that, the roof. By the time firefighters put out the massive fire, eight units had been destroyed and 32 units had sustained major damage.

Now the girlfriend, Barbara Pellow, has been named in a $2 million lawsuit – one of two filed in the aftermath of the enormous fire – because she agreed in a lease she signed with her boyfriend, Khek Chanthalavong, to be responsible for any damages either of them caused, MLive reports.

The lawsuit was filed by Travelers Indemnity Co., which insured the complex and paid out damages in excess of $2 million.

Both Pellow, who said she had no idea her boyfriend was using the torch and awoke to hearing him yelling and trying to douse the quickly spreading fire, and Chanthalavong were named in a second lawsuit filed by Auto Owners Insurance Co., which insured three damaged units and paid out claims of $56,530.

Both civil lawsuits are in the early stages of litigation in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

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