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Conservation officer, state trooper rescue resident from burning home in Delta County
February 03, 2023
Five minutes after Delta Dispatch put out a call Monday reporting a structure fire along U.S. Highway 2 in Rapid River, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Stephen Butzin arrived at the scene.
Michigan State Police Trooper Zane Weaver got there at the same time.
The Masonville Township Fire Department and EMS personnel weren’t far behind, with the residents of the home – an unidentified husband and wife – reportedly still inside their burning house.
“I was informed that the wife left the house, when she returned, she opened the door and smoke began to pour out of the residence, she then called 911,” Butzin said.
Butzin and Weaver ran up to the front door and found thick, brown smoke coming out of the residence, and they observed a woman standing outside.
“As I walked in the house, you could not see anything at ‘standing height,’” Butzin said. “I had to crouch to be able to see through the house as it was full of smoke.”
Trooper Weaver located the husband on the couch and yelled for him to exit the residence, but he would not comply with the order.
“Trooper Weaver and I had to physically grab ahold of the husband and carry him out of the residence,” Butzin said. “I believe he did not even know his house was on fire.”
Once they had the man outside, they determined the woman they’d seen standing in the yard was the man’s wife and that no one else was inside the house.
The officers placed the man in the couple’s vehicle and instructed the woman to drive to the end of her road to allow for arriving firefighters to access the home.
Smoke was still pouring out of the house when firefighters approached the front door. They were able to quickly get inside to find a mattress burning in a bedroom.
Firefighters extinguished the fire, removed the mattress from the house and aired out the house.
The home’s residents were treated at the scene by Masonville Township EMS personnel.
“Neither the wife or the husband was transported to the hospital nor sought medical attention,” Butzin said.
Butzin cleared the scene of the structure fire at 5:50 p.m. Alger Delta Electric and DTE Energy also assisted firefighters and responding officers.
Butzin has been with the DNR Law Enforcement Division since July 2017 and is assigned to patrol Delta County.
He was previously presented with a DNR Law Enforcement Division Life Saving Award for his quick action, with another officer, that resulted in the survival of two people involved in a personal injury snowmobile accident in January 2018.
“Conservation Officer Butzin is a very humble officer. Time after time he shows compassion and dedication to the public he serves,” said Lt. Eugene “Skip” Hagy, a district law supervisor with the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s district 2, which covers the easternmost six counties in the Upper Peninsula.
“He often doesn’t say anything because he ‘doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it’ or to be thought of in any way other than just an officer doing his job – what he thinks any officer would do. He is of the highest caliber and his level of dedication is exemplary.”
The incident illustrates well how police, firefighters and other responders work together to overcome challenges in emergency situations, especially in rural communities.
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.
Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.
Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download and media use. A suggested caption follows. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.
Butzin: Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Stephen Butzin is shown.