St. Clair Shores firefighter’s family displaced after house fire

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 23, 2018

Shutterstock image


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The community at Rodgers Elementary School is pulling together for one of its families whose dog is recovering from smoke inhalation after a recent fire.

St. Clair Shores Fire Marshal M. Bodnar said that firefighters were called to the 21000 block of St. Gertrude Street just after 5 p.m. Nov. 18 after the homeowner discovered smoke pouring out of her home.

The woman and her two children had left the home to run some errands but returned home after a half-hour. When she opened the door to the attached garage, smoke began to come out of the door.

While the family has two dogs, only one was home at the time. She had gotten herself out of her crate, which was in the basement, and went up to the second story of the house, before the residents returned home.

Bodnar said that the fire appears to have originated in a home office area in the basement of the house, but that the cause is still under investigation. There was a flexible water line running right above the home office that seemed to have been burned through in the fire, creating a sprinkler effect that may have helped to contain the fire.

Bodnar said that there was minimal fire damage to the home, but there is a lot of smoke damage. Fire officials were on the scene of the fire for about two hours. The investigation is being conducted by a neighboring city, Bodnar said, because the home belongs to a St. Clair Shores firefighter.

Shannon Snarski, the Parent-Teacher Club president at Rodgers Elementary School, said that the house belongs to St. Clair Shores firefighter Matt Larivee; his wife, Heather Larivee; and their two children, Natalie and Nathan.

Snarski said she is coordinating a collection of gift cards for the family, as well as a GoFundMe page to help pay for veterinary bills for their dog.

“Anytime that someone has a fire and they can’t take anything from their home, everyone wants to do something,” said Snarski, who said she has known the Larivee family for about seven years; Heather Larivee is the treasurer of the PTC.

“They are outstanding members of the community,” she added. “They go out of their way to help people all the time.”

Snarski said that Ash, the dog, has been in an “air cage” receiving breathing treatments at the veterinarian since the fire. The family hoped that she would be able to go home Nov. 21.

“The smoke has settled into her lungs and she is coughing it up now, but that’s good,” Snarski said.

The family doesn’t know how long they will be displaced from their home, she said, and because of the significant smoke damage, “they have nothing but the clothes off their back.”

That’s why she’s collecting gift cards to stores like Walmart, Meijer, Target, local restaurants and Camp Bow Wow for daycare for the two dogs as a way to help them get back on their feet. Gift cards can be dropped off or mailed to Rodgers Elementary, c/o the Larivee Family, 21601 Lanse St., St. Clair Shores, MI 48081. There is also a page for the Larivee Family House Fire Fund at to help pay for expenses that insurance won’t cover, like the veterinarian bills for their dog.

“This time of year is an especially tough time to be going through this,” Snarski said. That is “an extra reason why we’re trying to help them out.”