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  • Jordan D. Smith

Recent PHS Grad Dies in House Fire

The intersection of Murtha and Tupper Lake Roads is an idyllic, peaceful country crossroads surrounded by gently rolling farm fields. That calm was broken though when fire broke out around 4:45 in the afternoon on Thursday, July 5th at the nearby home of Terry and Maylynn Scarborough. Emergency services responded to the scene on Tupper Lake Road in Sunfield Township to find a small fire and the home filled with smoke. According to initial reports by the Ionia Sentinel-Standard, firefighters were able to successfully save one occupant from the home who was transported to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing with non-life threatening injuries.

The victim who has since been identified as Tristen-James “TJ” Brown, the 20 year old son of the homeowners, later died from his injuries. Mr. Brown, who was autistic, was a 2018 graduate of Portland High School. According to Lehman Funeral Home, Brown was active in Boy Scouting, and enjoyed spending time outdoors especially camping. He also enjoyed playing video games and driving his truck.

Pastor Duane Bower of Epic Community Church will officiate a memorial service at Lehman Funeral Home in Portland, Thursday, July 12th at 11:00 AM. The family will receive visitors at the funeral home for one hour prior to the memorial service. A funeral luncheon will follow hosted at Epic Community Church.

Pastor Bower wrote in a post on the church’s Facebook page that, “the Scarboroughs do not yet know the full extent of the damage on their home. They were able to salvage some of the clothing in their house, and they are currently staying with family.” According to Ms. Katrice Sweet, a member of the family, the Scarboroughs, “...will be displaced for quite awhile as the house and...contents are inspected and repaired.” According to Pastor Bower, those wishing to help the Scarboroughs are encouraged to do so in the form or gift cards to help the family purchase necessities as they rebuilt. Gift cards to assist the family can be dropped off to Epic Community Church in Portland.

Officials from Sunfield Fire Department referred questions to the Ionia County Sheriff's Office. Ionia County Undersheriff Charles Noll stated that the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is working with Michigan State Police fire investigators and that currently evidence gathered from the home is being processed by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab. While he did not wish to speculate as to the cause of the fire, he said that fire investigations of this sort typically take a few weeks to a month to resolve as evidence takes time to be processed at the state police lab.

Photo by: Jordan D. Smith

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