Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Monday

May 12, 2014

No cause yet for Grant Township fire

BUCKLEY — Fire investigators still don't know what caused a "suspicious" Grant Township farmhouse fire in which authorities found a man's body.

The May 8 blaze consumed the Ramsay Road home and caused a partial collapse. Grand Traverse County sheriff's Capt. Chris Clark said the house's remnants proved too unstable for investigators on the search for clues.

"Due to the condition of the home not being safe to investigate, they had to get a piece of heavy equipment out," he said.

Clark said the heavy machinery work began today. A state fire marshal is assisting local authorities in figuring out what exactly kindled the blaze.

Authorities aren't confirming the identity of a man's body they pulled from the debris. Secretary of State records show William Rackow, 76, and Margaret Ann Rackow, 70, lived at the address.

An obituary for William Rackow ran in Sunday's Record-Eagle and stated a funeral service will take place Tuesday at Buckley's Grant United Methodist Church. Rackow's family didn't return a call for comment.

Rackow worked 30 years for the Grand Traverse County Road Commission. He farmed through his employment and into his retirement, the obituary states.

Clark said investigators await DNA test results to positively identify the body. A medical examiner in Grand Rapids is conducting a forensic autopsy.

"We don't have any more information on the body that we found," he said.

Clark said the home's female resident had been traveling back from visiting downstate friends when the fire occurred.

Investigators consider the fire suspicious because it comes on the heels of a Nov. 25 pole barn fire on the same property that appears to be arson.

Suspicious fires aren't new in Grant Township. Neighbors and law enforcement officials alike recall vacant structures, barns and hay bales that mysteriously went aflame in recent years.

Investigators are asking the public for any tips that could help in the case. People with information may call the Grand Traverse County sheriff’s detective bureau at 995-5002 or the Silent Observer at 947-8477.

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