BY MICHAEL WALTON
KALKASKA — Food simmering on a stove sparked the fire that destroyed a 101-year-old farm house.
"Just an accidental kitchen fire," Coldsprings Excelsior Fire Chief Tim McCullen said of a Dec. 12 blaze that destroyed the Shetler farm house. The house on Tyler Road burned to the ground.
The Shetler Dairy Farm is well-known in Kalkaska County and throughout northern Michigan. It is a prominent player in the local food movement and boasts the importance of its grass-fed dairy stock.
The Shetler Dairy Farm operation, including its barn and livestock, wasn't damaged in last month's fire.
George Shetler said his family plans to rebuild the farm house, but until then he is living on the farm property in an Airstream camper.
"I can't go far with the cows here," he said.
Shetler said he and his family are grateful for support given by community members since the fire. Support has ranged from food and warm blankets to money.
"I'll put it this way: I'm humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement," he said.
Community members are hosting a pancake breakfast benefit for the Shetler family on Jan. 20 at CETA Hall, 6615 County Road 612.
Donations will be accepted during the event, which starts at 8 a.m.