Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

January 30, 2013

Cause of fire at business still unknown

TRAVERSE CITY — It's too soon to say for sure what caused a blaze that severely damaged a local business.

One of two Wellington Street buildings used by Arrow Roofing & Supply caught fire Monday afternoon. No one was injured, but the building sustained major structural, smoke and water damage.

Fire investigators from multiple agencies were on scene Tuesday in an effort to determine what caused the fire. The building is in good enough shape that a cause likely will be determined, city fire Chief Jim Tuller said, but the damage is enough to slow the investigation.

"We've got four investigators on it right now, and we're making progress," he said. "But it's slow going."

The building caught fire not long after 4 p.m. Rush hour traffic along nearby Eighth Street slowed as people watched firefighters battle the blaze. Fire ripped through the roof, and fire crews were on scene until nearly 10 p.m.

The business has been there for about 20 years, general manager Brian Krombeen said. The building that caught fire contained offices and sheet metal supplies, he said. The operation closed for the day about 45 minutes before the fire broke out.

"We're going to rebuild, definitely," Krombeen said. "It's just a matter of time."

The building's roof will need to be replaced, but the walls appear to be structurally intact, Tuller said.

Arrow remains open and in full operation, Krombeen said. Most of the company's vehicles and supplies were in an undamaged building next door.

Even though the business is able to stay open and no one was hurt, the damage is a tough pill to swallow.

"To go and see total devastation like that is hard on you," Krombeen said.

Arrow also has a location in Grand Rapids.

Representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality also were on scene Tuesday in an effort to determine if any contaminants from the fire or from containment efforts got into the nearby Boardman River. Tuller said groundwater samples also will be taken from the site.

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