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Downtown Calumet fire: Case remains open 1 year later

Updates include the gradual preparation of the site for a future construction project.
A year after the tragedy, Calumet is beginning to pick up the pieces and prepare to re-purpose...
A year after the tragedy, Calumet is beginning to pick up the pieces and prepare to re-purpose the site.(WLUC)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 8:50 PM EDT
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - One year after a devastating fire in downtown Calumet, the tragedy is still fresh in the minds of people in the Copper Country.

“It’s not something that happens every year; not even every five years,” said Houghton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Charlie Klein. “It was a very large event for this community.”

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

Detective Lieutenant Klein has been involved in the investigation into the cause. While progress has been made, a cause has yet to be determined.

“At this time, the case is still open,” continued Klein. “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) has been removing debris, contaminated soil and other harmful materials from beyond a block wall. The wall has been partially removed, revealing smoothed over dirt. However, the block isn’t ready for new construction.

“The foundations that are there are not removed,” said Main Street Calumet Executive Director Leah Polzien. “That is not what the EPA does to remediate the safety concerns for the site.”

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

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

“We will be engaging the community in public input for visioning for the site,” she said. “We’re looking forward to having the community come together around that site and express their wishes for the future.”

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

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