Firefighters battle blaze at Moon River Soap

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 8, 2022

Photo provided

Photo provided


ROCHESTER — The Rochester Fire Department was dispatched to Moon River Soap Co. at 9:08 p.m. May 10 on the report of electrical wires on the ground in the parking area on the northside of the business.

“These were Detroit Edison power lines that had come off the pole and were on the ground arcing, and we don’t know why,” Fire Chief John Cieslik said.

Upon arrival, crews found that the building was not on fire, so firefighters got to work securing the area to make sure pedestrians did not go near the wires.

“About 20 minutes later, as a couple of them were walking down the hill from barricading off the area near Main Street, they noticed some light smoke coming from the west side of the roof of Moon River Soap,” he said.

Cieslik said they quickly forced the door to the business open, went inside, found lots of smoke on the second floor in one of the back rooms and discovered the attic of the building was on fire.

With the assistance of the Troy, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township, Addison and Shelby Township fire departments, Cieslik said, the fire was brought under control around 11:20 p.m.

“The fire departments in this area work together all the time, and we really have a great relationship. It’s that relationship and working together that kept the fire contained to just Moon River Soap. The next building was only 2 feet away, and it did not receive any damage, so that just shows you how well the firefighters work together in protecting things,” Cieslik said.

The Washington Township and Oxford fire departments brought some drones to assist with the inspection of the hotspots in the attic area, and firefighters remained on the scene until about 2 a.m. cleaning up and putting out hotspots.

Although no one was in the building at the time of the fire, one firefighter was sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

“We did send one firefighter to the hospital to get checked out because of smoke. They were checked out at the hospital and released fairly quickly, but as you might imagine, we are very protective of our firefighters and wanted to make sure that they were in good shape,” Cieslik said.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Arson Investigation Unit, which Cieslik expects to wrap up the work in June.

“We are investigating whether the wires came in contact with the attic. As you can imagine, that is a lot of work for the investigators to try to determine,” he said.

Cieslik said the fire caused “heavy damage” to Moon River Soap Co.

“The attic area had a living space, so that was totally destroyed, and then there was significant water damage on the second and third floors,” he said. “I don’t know when the insurance adjusters will make a decision, probably by the next week or two about whether it can be repaired or not. I just don’t know at this point. … Obviously, our Fire Department is very sad that the damage to Moon River Soap has them out of business, and we hope that they get back into business as soon as possible.”