Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

December 19, 2013

Fire victim remembered as prankster, active community member

WILLIAMSBURG — Fred Albert Savage's high school friends remember him as a star athlete and a prankster who always was quick to smile.

"He used to run around with my husband; they used to just have all kinds of fun and he was just a joker," said Caryl Stites, who attended the old Williamsburg High School with Savage decades ago.

Students long suspected Savage was behind a Halloween prank that ended with a manure spreader atop the school.

"We always thought it was him, but we were never really sure," said Carol Hockin, a former Whitewater Township clerk who went to school with Savage.

Savage, 74, died Wednesday in a blaze that destroyed his Whitewater Township home. Grand Traverse County Undersheriff Nate Alger said investigators don't believe the fire is suspicious and are working to identify a cause.

“(Savage) was unable to get out for some reason,” Alger said. “This man was visually impaired. To what extent, I don’t know.”

Firefighters arrived shortly after a 3:45 p.m. dispatch call to find Savage's 5143 Hanna Road residence completely engulfed in flames. Savage's family members, neighbors and then firefighters tried to enter the home, but the flames forced them back.

Grand Traverse County Rural Fire Chief Theo Weber said the home's location in a remote, wooded area presented challenges for personnel from six responding fire stations from Grand Traverse, Antrim and Kalkaska counties.

"There were very narrow roadways, unplowed roadways, steep inclines, icy roads, all of the above," he said. "It was very difficult to gain access to the structure."

Weber said at one point a fire engine slid off the narrow trail and became stuck in a snowy ditch. Firefighters eventually shifted to smaller gear and knocked down flames by about 10:30 p.m., when rescue crews were able to recover Savage's body.

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent