5 fires at one house lead to insurance fraud claim against couple
LOWELL, MI – It took five fires to finally burn down the house at 318 Lincoln Lake Ave. SE and now the owners of that home are charged with insurance fraud and lying to police.
Michelle and Ricky Fyan escaped a blaze that was called in around 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 2014, and resulted in the Lowell Fire Department declaring the home a total loss.
The heat from the fire was intense enough to damage siding on homes on either side of the house, as well as a motor home in a neighbor’s driveway.
While on the scene in 2014, Lowell Fire Chief Frank Martin said the fire did not appear suspicious, but the home was “pretty much destroyed.”
But Michigan State Police fire investigators and James Shinsky, senior fire investigator from State Farm, began to look into the case. They discovered the home had been in fires in 2001, 2002 and 2009, according to court documents.
Investigators say they also discovered that prior to the fire that destroyed the home, a neighbor had seen a fire at 11 p.m. in another part of the property, according to court records.
In talking to investigators, the Fyans allegedly lied about the earlier fire leading to charges of lying to police, a felony punishable by as much as four years in prison.
Ricky Fyan eventually told police about the 11 p.m. fire and said he and his wife had managed to extinguish it.
The 11 p.m. fire was determined to be arson by the Fire Marshall, while the 3:30 a.m. fire was left without a determination of cause due to the extensive damage to the structure.
The property is currently listed as foreclosed and was the subject of a June order by the Lowell City Council to allow the city to take the necessary steps to demolish the structures and bring the property into compliance if the property owners refuse to do so.
According to City Manager Mark Howe, the structures were torn down by the city, junk was removed from the property near a city park and it is now a vacant lot that was grass-seeded by community volunteers.
Court records show that the Fyans list their current residence in Grand Rapids Township.
The 46-year-olds were scheduled to appear in Kent County Circuit Court Tuesday Oct. 13, to discuss a possible plea agreement with the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office, but no deal was reached.
The two remain free on $10,000 bonds pending a trial likely to come next month