Little Elk ‘castle’ burns


A Little Elk Lake house known by many as ‘the castle’ burned in an early morning fire on Friday, Jan. 12.

Firefighters from Princeton, Baldwin Township and Zimmerman were called to 28299 144th Street in Blue Hill Township at about 5:15 a.m. on January 12.

Authorities believe the home sits on the same lot as another very large house that burned in 1978 or 1979.

The 6,000 square-foot home with 10-bedrooms and six bathrooms appears to be a total loss, according to Princeton Fire Chief Jim Roxbury.

The home most recently has been marketed as a vacation lodge rental and a retreat. It was renting for $800 per night, according to the vacation rental website According to the website, the home slept up to 30 people. While the home was unoccupied at the time of the fire, Roxbury received information suggesting that the home had been used a few days prior.

“The cause of the fire is undetermined,” said Roxbury, who noted that fire crews were on scene for 12 hours.

“We’re working closely with the state fire marshal and we’re checking some possibilities,” Roxbury said.

Roxbury said that because of the value of the property and the fact that insurance companies are likely to be involved, not much will be said about the cause of the fire until the fire marshal has a definite answer.

“My guess is that everyone is going to be cautious,” he said.

The first call reporting the fire came into the Baldwin Fire dEpartment at about 5:15 a.m. A Zimmerman firefighter was first on the scene. Baldwin had the first truck on the scene. Princeton, called in at 5:22, was the last to arrive.

When Roxbury arrived on scene the fire was well on its way to beingdevastating.

“The house was structually still standing but the first and second floors were heavilying involved in fire,” he said.

“When firefighters tried to enter the house part of the first floor collapsed into the basement,” Roxbury said.

Firefighters were on the scene from shortly after 5 a.m. and then into ther evening. The fire departments rotated firefights in and out of duty to keep men fresh and to accommodate the work schedules of the firefighters, most of whom are volunteers.

West Branch Construction brought in a crew that used a backhoe to pull down walls so firefighters could reach hotspots.

“It’s still standing. It’s structurally standing. But most likely its a total loss,” Roxbury said.

After 11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, firefighters were called back to the scene where some hot spots flared up.

The area in which the fire rekindled was very small — about two-feet square, Roxbury said.

“But the fact that it rekindled is no surprise because of the amount ofinvolvement we had,” he said.

By the time the fire was extinguished the house was pretty much destroyed.

The location of the fire is in an area where Princeton, Baldwin and Zimmerman fire departments all come together and meet.

“I think it’s great to see how the three fire departments worked together,” Roxbury said.