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December 6, 2012

Suspicious fire guts former Farmer Jack on 10 Mile

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

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Firefighters used an aerial unit to extinguish the smoldering remains of a resale furniture warehouse in a plaza at 10 Mile and Ryan Dec. 6. The building was formerly home to Farmer Jack.

Firefighters spent hours battling flames and pouring water on hot spots Dec. 6 after an early morning fire destroyed a former Farmer Jack store that was more recently home to a resale warehouse.

According to Warren Fire Commissioner Wilburt “Skip” McAdams, the first units were dispatched to the store in a strip mall on the south side of 10 Mile east of Ryan at 2:05 a.m., where they found smoke billowing from the front and rear of the building.

A section of the roof collapsed soon after their arrival, leading investigators to determine the fire had been burning for some time before firefighters were alerted.

“We believe it was smoldering. There was heavy smoke pumping from the front of the building and the rear of the building,” McAdams said. “The front of the building was glass, pretty much, and several of those panes broke after the heat built up. It cracked the glass and allowed the oxygen in. Once it gained sufficient oxygen, it really took off.”

McAdams said the worst damage gutted the southeast section of the building, where the roof collapsed first. Firefighters still needed an aerial unit to spray smoldering roofing materials more than six hours after the first units arrived on the scene.

The building that burned contained resale items, including furniture and appliances.

Three Warren Fire Department engine companies and two squads were dispatched to the scene of the fire, along with the department’s ladder truck and a second aerial unit from the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal.

No injuries were reported among firefighters, and the building was believed to have been unoccupied.

The cause of the fire remained unclear, but McAdams cited a report of “unusual activities at the property in the last few days.”

“All we’re going to say right now is that it’s suspicious,” McAdams said.  “We’ve got ATF in right now taking a look at it. They haven’t made a determination whether they’re going to partner with us in the investigation.”

The plaza is also home to several other businesses, including an adjacent Family Dollar store that sustained smoke and water damage.

McAdams said he’d recommend tearing down the section of the building gutted by the fire as an emergency measure.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.