Big Bay woman dies in fire

BIG BAY – Michigan State Police continue to investigate the cause of a house fire in Big Bay that killed a 59-year-old woman and two dogs early Friday afternoon.

At 12:01 p.m. Friday, the Powell Township Fire Department was called to a structure fire with a personreported still inside the house.

Fourteen firefighters and three pumper trucks from the Powell Township Fire Department went to the blaze, which was located a short distance from the fire hall at 106 Bensinger St. in Big Bay.

Fire officials said when crews arrived they found the home of Stephen and Cheryl Girard engulfed in flames, making entry or rescue attempts impossible.

Powell Township firefighters battled the blaze with the assistance of firefighters from Marquette Township. Powell Township EMS personnel assisted at the scene.

Recovery efforts located the body of a female in the burned out building. State police later identified the woman as Cheryl Girard. Fire officials said two canines were also found dead in the burned single-story home. Stephen Girard was not in the house at the time of the blaze.

Fire officials said a wood stove is the suspected cause of the fire, but the investigation is continuing by state police. The cause was undetermined as of Friday night.

Troopers were assisted by the state police Eighth District fire investigator.

Some walls of the house remained standing after the fire was put out, but firefighters said the fire-gutted structure was a total loss.

Fire crews left the scene of the blaze at about 4:30 p.m. Friday.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is