Onlookers could only watch as Alpena city firefighters battled a fire inside the historic home known locally as the Fletcher House.
According to Fire Chief Rob Edmonds, maintenance workers were using a heat gun for renovations when they took a break and the fire started. “When we first got here, the first level didn’t have much smoke in it until we got to the second level which had a fair amount of smoke at that time,” he said.
Using a ladder and chainsaws, firefighters opened a hole in the roof to help ventilate the building. “They had to make an attic access by ventilating through the attic surface to try and find an origin,” Edmonds said. “We ventilated the roof because it’s pretty closed in. So we had to give it a place to go. Once we did that pretty much the fire was under control and able to be extinguished.”
Battling the fire took its toll on the firefighters and many of them had to sit and take a much deserved rest. The Salvation Army was present and made sure to keep them hydrated. “It’s a lot of extra heat and a lot of stress on the body,” said Edmonds. “Obviously, with it being a warm day like it is, they’re warm anyways just due to atmospheric conditions, but when you add on another 50 or 60 pounds of gear and working, breathing off of an air pack, they get through a tank and we try to rehab them.”
There are no injuries, but the house did sustain some damage. “There’s a fair amount of smoke damage throughout the building just because it was heavily charged, mostly in the upstairs,” said Edmonds. “There’s water damage just from us doing extinguishment operations and we cut some holes in the ceilings, the walls and the roof.”
Despite the damage, the Fletcher House will remain standing.