Firefighters from three departments battle an overnight blaze that destroyed the American Legion Hall Post 282 in Ypsilanti.
BY SUSAN L. OPPAT
The Ann Arbor News
Firefighters from three departments battled fire and ice overnight at a blaze that destroyed the American Legion Post 282 in Ypsilanti.
Fire Capt. Michelle Stanbury said passers-by started calling at 11:36 p.m. Sunday to report the rear of the building at 117 S. Huron St. was engulfed in flames.
When firefighters arrived two minutes later, Stanbury said, the one-story bar at the rear of the building, and the two-story middle of the building were in flames, and heavy smoke was pouring out from the eaves of the third-story 1984 addition at the front of the building.
Stanbury said workers at the nearby Gilbert House assisted living residence had to move seniors living on the end of the building closest to the post into a community room overnight because of smoke. She said workers placed mattresses for the residents in the room. None of the residents was injured, and the Gilbert House was not damaged, she said.
Firefighters battle blaze overnight at the American Legion Post on South Huron Street in Ypsilanti.
Police closed South Huron Street from Woodward to Michigan Avenue to battle the blaze, and had to stretch hose lines across the street to a hydrant, turning the street into a sheet of ice and a parking lot into a pond, Stanbury said.
The road, the main entrance to the city from I-94, remained closed early this morning, since firefighters didn't leave the scene at 7:08 a.m. Workers immediately began salting and scraping the road.
Stanbury said the rear and middle portions of the building were destroyed, and the roof is gone on what is left.
Stanbury said the Ypsilanti Department used its old ladder truck likely for the last time Sunday night. The department has a new tower truck, but couldn't use it because firefighters are scheduled to undergo training on it this week.
Stanbury said she issued a full callback for firefighters Sunday night, and called in the ladder truck from Ypsilanti Township and a tower and engine from Ann Arbor to fight the fire from above, because the fire was too far advanced to go into the building.
Lifetime Legionnaire Ernie Smith said the building is insured. Post Sr. Vice Cmdr. Amir Fawzy said he was relieved he has the post's scrapbook safe at his home.
Smith said a bartender was the last person out of the building about two hours before the blaze was spotted, and saw nothing amiss. He said the building is at least 100 years old, except for the brick addition along the street. He said the post has owned the building since the 1920s.
Fawzy and Smith said most of the post members had heard about the fire Sunday night, but hadn't been down to the building early this morning to see what was left, let alone decide what to do next.
"We took care of a lot of vets, did Toys for Tots, and took care of lot of people at Christmastime," Smith said this morning. "We'll have to get together and see what we're going to assess."
Susan Oppat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org