It took more than two hours to extinguish a fire that broke out on the Manresa Jesuit Retreat property April 10.

It took more than two hours to extinguish a fire that broke out on the Manresa Jesuit Retreat property April 10.

Photo provided by Noel Clason, of the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department


Barn destroyed, house remains after fire

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 22, 2019

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS — A historical barn on the grounds of the Manresa Jesuit Retreat House is no more after an afternoon fire broke out two weeks ago, but luckily no one was hurt, according to public safety officers.

According to Sgt. Scott Splan, of the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department, a 911 call came in to the department’s dispatch center at 4:10 p.m. April 10 reporting a fire at the Manresa property, 1390 Quarton Road.

Two minutes later, the first Public Safety Department unit arrived at the scene to confirm a structure fire in a large barn, away from the main retreat house.

“We actually have three barns on the property, and this was affectionately called our dumpster barn because we kept the dumpster in there,” said Steve Raymond, the associate director of Manresa. “It burned down completely, and another of the barns was slightly damaged. But we keep pointing to the good thing, which is that no one was injured.”

The two barns predate the 1926 sale of the property to the Society of Jesus, whose members are known as Jesuits. Also on Manresa’s 39 acres is the large main house that can accommodate 70 retreatants, three separate cottages, a gatehouse, a garage and a prayer chapel inside a converted former waterwheel house.

Splan said the Bloomfield Township Fire Department and the Troy Fire Department assisted in extinguishing the blaze, which took two and a half hours.

“It was actually a pretty big fire,” Splan said. “We were fortunate that it was an unoccupied structure, but it was an old, old barn, and it burned fast because of the old wood.”

He added that it’s unknown what caused the fire in the first place, though there doesn’t seem to be malicious intent. He said the event is classified as undetermined and accidental.

Whether Manresa will rebuild the largest of its three barn structures is still up in the air, according to Raymond.

“We’re assessing whether we need to rebuild that barn or if we can make something else work — we don’t know,” he said. “But it hasn’t affected our daily activities. Our services have been ongoing here, and that’s a good thing.”

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