CASSAUNDRA GROVE, a resident of Perry, is one of the many heroes who selflessly risked their lives when the Cavalier Bar caught fire on Wednesday, July 11. Grove and her friend, Christina Lafrancis, were traveling south on Shiawassee Street in downtown Corunna at approximately 1:15 p.m., after spending the early part of the day at the Secretary of State and shopping at Meijer. Cassaundra noticed fire coming from an air conditioning unit in one of the windows of the second floor apartment above the bar. She immediately told Christina to pull over, and once the car stopped in the parking lot of the Corunna Town Tub, Cassaundra instinctively ran across the road to save the Cavalier Bar patrons.

  She entered the bar as the second floor windows began to pop, which caused the fire to explode with the sudden infusion of oxygen, but the five people in the bar had no idea they were in any danger.

  “When I burst through the door into the bar, everyone was eating their lunch without a care in the world,” explained Cassaundra. “Nobody believed me that the building was on fire, so I had to repeat myself before anyone started moving. The bartender grabbed the drawer from the cash register, and I helped everyone out of the bar and across the road. The people from the bar then took their plates into the Surbeck Building to finish their meals. I had never been inside the Cavalier Bar before that day, but I could tell there were people inside, and I would not have been able to live with myself if I didn’t help them.”

  While Grove rescued everyone from the burning bar, Lafrancis called 9-1-1. She was the first to report the fire, which may have given firefighters the extra minutes they needed to save the rest of the buildings that occupy the west side of the 100 block of Shiawassee Street.

  Grove is proud to have reacted so quickly, and she does not question her decision to enter the burning building, despite the rapidly spreading fire.

  “I did not even have time to think when I saw the fire,” shared Cassaundra. “I knew I was the only person who could save the people inside the bar, so I did what I needed to do. It was not my intention, but I am a hero to my daughters because of this, so I am very proud of that.

  “After leaving my house early in the morning and spending the day running errands and shopping, it is really fortunate that we happened to be driving by the bar when the fire started,” said Grove. “The fire appeared to have been burning for a while when we came, and nobody else seemed to notice, so who knows how bad this would have turned out if we did not happen to be driving by at that moment.”

  Cassaundra (top left) can be seen with her family in front of their Perry home in the days after her heroic rescue. Cassaundra is standing next to her husband, Jim Grove, and behind their daughters, five-year-old Haley (left) and six-year-old Sunshine.

(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)

Many Heroes was last modified: July 23rd, 2018 by Karen Elford