Alpena house fire destroys state representative’s home

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

By Scott Loftis

A house fire last week completely destroyed the home of State Rep. Ron McNair of Alpena, but no one was injured.

McNair said he was in Little Rock when the fire broke out early on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 18. McNair’s wife, Phyllis, was alone at home but was able to get out of the house.

“She went to bed about 1 and something woke her up about 3:30,” McNair said. “Then it just went south from there.”

McNair said his wife initially didn’t realize there was a fire.

“She thought something was hitting the window,” McNair said. “When she got up and actually looked out the bathroom window, she couldn’t see anything. Of course, that was because of the smoke. She opened the window and then she could smell it. She ran around to the kitchen and she saw flames.”

McNair said his wife was able to retrieve her purse, but nothing else.

“She ran back and got her purse and she wanted to get in the little box in the closet where she keeps her jewelry, but she didn’t, thankfully,” he said. “She started back out and the dining room window blew in and the flames came in that way. She went out the front door.”

Phyllis McNair’s brother arrived at the scene within a few minutes, said Ron McNair, who drove from Little Rock to Alpena as soon as he received word of the fire.

“Everything was done by the time I got home, but she had to watch it,” McNair said of his wife. “It’s kind of tough to see 50 years of life gone. But it’s happened to other people. As long as she didn’t get hurt, we can handle the rest of the stuff.

“I was driving all the way home and hoping for the best, but there just wasn’t anything left,” he said. “Other than a desk, I don’t know of anything anywhere. I certainly feel for anybody who’s had to go through it.”

The McNairs built the home in 1976. Ron McNair said they “completely rebuilt it,” starting in 2009.

“We were actually doing a little work on the last room, and Phyllis told me that she promised she wasn’t going to start anymore projects,” McNair said. “She had just gotten it kind of the way she wanted it, and it took us 40 years to do it.

“It’s really tough on her because she had to sit here and watch it. And every time you turn around, you remember you had this and you remember you had that and you need something but it was in the house. It’s pretty devastating.”

McNair said he and his wife have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and offers of assistance they’ve received since the fire.

“We have had so many people call and encourage and offer to help, from Little Rock on up this way,” he said. “I guess that’s the only good thing about a bad thing is you realize how many people are willing to help.

“The house can be replaced. The stuff that really meant something to us cannot be replaced. We’ve just got to get over that mental block and move on. But like I said, it’s such a blessing to realize how many people are willing and wanting to help. At least there’s a lot of humanity left.”

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