Calumet fire: one year later


HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – A year after a devastating fire in downtown Calumet, the tragedy is still fresh in the minds of Copper Country residents.

“It’s not something that happens every year; not even every 5 years,” said Detective Lt. Charlie Klein of the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office. “It was a very important event for this community.”

The fire destroyed nearly an entire block of downtown Calumet, including a laundromat, restaurant and apartments belonging to nearly 30 people.

Detective Lieutenant Klein was involved in the investigation of the cause. Although progress has been made, a cause has yet to be determined.

“At this time, the case is still open,” Klein continued. “They have a general idea of ​​where the fire started, but they don’t necessarily have the cause of the fire.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed debris, contaminated soil and other harmful materials beyond a block wall. The wall has been partially removed, revealing the smoothed dirt. However, the block is not ready for new construction.

“The foundations there are not removed,” said Leah Polzien, chief executive of Main Street Calumet. “That’s not what the EPA is doing to address the site’s safety issues.”

Polzien, along with other officials from across Houghton County, are working together to prepare the site for redevelopment. This will be accomplished through a Michigan State Improvement Grant.

She said she hopes people will let their thoughts be known when the time comes.

“We will engage the community in public input into the site’s vision,” she said. “We look forward to seeing the community rally around this site and express their wishes for the future.”

For more information on the fire and its impact, click here.

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