Ann Arbor Fire Department saves 120-year-old downtown building

ANN ARBOR – Quick response from the Ann Arbor Fire Department saved a downtown building on Tuesday, according to Ann Arbor Fire Chief Mike Kennedy.

Firefighters responded to a structure fire at 4:19 p.m. on the 100 block of North First Street and quickly put out the fire from the exterior, but soon discovered another fire in a void space.

The 120-year-old building was built with balloon framing, which features multiple void spaces on the structure’s upper levels. According to Kennedy, these spaces allow fire to spread rapidly.

STRUCTURE FIRE - On February 2 at 4:19 PM shift 3 citywide responded on a first alarm structure fire in the 100 block of...

Posted by City of Ann Arbor Fire Department - Government on Tuesday, February 2, 2021

“Any building that’s that old is very challenging,” said Kennedy. “There were a lot of void spaces and multiple roofs.”

Located just blocks from the Ann Arbor Fire Station, firefighters were able to aggressively respond to stop the fire from spreading.

“Had there been any delay, it would have taken off in this attic,” said Kennedy, who added that the original wood in old buildings is more combustible because it has dried out.

He said arson is not suspected in this case. Located next to the Delonis Center, Washtenaw County’s homeless shelter, Ann Arbor Police believe that homeless individuals may have unintentionally started the blaze in the carport area.

Plates of fresh food were found on the premises and there was no evidence of anything that could have started an electrical fire.

At this time, the investigation has been closed.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.