Lou Berard, a beloved member of the Hadley, MI, community as a small business owner and 30-year member of the Hadley Lions Club, was hospitalized for burns to his face and body sustained in a fire Jan. 2 at the family’s automotive repair business.
Lou and his son, Jeff, were injured at Lou’s Automotive Service on Hadley Road, just south of the Hadley Post Office.
The Berards were reportedly working on a minivan on a hoist inside the shop when it caught fire, just prior to 2 p.m. They were able to get the vehicle down off the hoist, and Jeff, a captain on the Hadley Twp. Fire Dept., used his vehicle to pull the burning van out of the building.
Lou and Jeff tried to extinguish the fire and were burned in the process. They were transported by ambulance to McLaren Lapeer Region and then transferred to the Hurley Medical Center in Flint for treatment of their burn injuries.
Hadley Twp. Fire Dept. Asst. Chief Mike Ivory said Jeff sustained injuries to one of his arms and was back home early that evening, while his father’s injuries are more severe. Jeff, said Ivory, will require further treatment for his burn injury.
While enroute to the fire hall, when Ivory passed the Lou’s Automotive building there were flames rolling out all three bay doors that face south.
“It was a hot fire. There was a lot of material in the building that fueled a quick spread of the fire,” said Ivory. “We’re just down the road. When our first truck got there most of the building was fully engulfed.”
In business since 1978, the blue pole barn building was destroyed. Firefighters were, however, able to remove the business safe and other artifacts from the office in the southwest corner of the building.
In addition to the vehicle that caught fire inside the building and Jeff’s pickup truck, a flatbed tow vehicle sustained burn damage, and there was also heat damage to...