Just as clocks sprung forward, an explosion rocked the Franklin Square area of downtown Houghton Sunday morning. Happening just after 3:00 AM, the blast led to a fire which subsequently destroyed an apartment complex next to the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce Office and Welcome Center.
Keweenaw Report spoke to Councilor Robert Megowan, a member of the Houghton Fire Department, and City Manager Eric Waara. They both say that no cause has been determined yet, but they could confirm that residents of the complex say a loud boom was heard right before the fire broke out.
It was severe enough to cause several cars in the parking lot at the front of the complex to also go up in flames.
Social media posts also suggest that an explosion occurred. All residents escaped and are accounted for.
Peter Mackin with the Salvation Army says that many residents are Michigan Tech students. University officials helped to address the immediate needs of those evacuated, namely clothing and footwear. Those who have been displaced will continue to be helped in the days and weeks ahead, including finding new living arrangements.
Multiple departments deployed to assist Houghton Fire. Keweenaw Report saw representatives from UPPCO and SEMCO, as well as the Hancock Fire Department. Ladder trucks used hoses to attack the fire from College Avenue in front of the building and East Lakeshore Drive from behind.
Mackin wished to express gratitude to McDonald’s of Houghton for providing coffee and breakfast to crews who responded to the blaze.