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Cause Of Calumet Fire Still Under Investigation

Questions remain after a fire in Calumet damaged a church and a forced a family out of their home.

“My daughter is a neighbor less than 100 yards from there, so I was on the scene pretty quick,” said Paul Gratthoff, a neighboring business owner who was able to get some pictures of the fire early Sunday morning.

Gratthoff said, “What I saw is a large fire in a house and it creeping up on the roof of the church. So, I saw exactly the opposite of what some of the other people supposedly seen or how it was reported.”

Initial reports indicate that the fire started in the church and spread to the house that was build very close to it, but Paul believes that the fire may have started at the house first before spreading to the church.

Investigators were sifting through the charred remnants on Tuesday, as the cause remains under investigation.

Firefighters had put out the blaze Sunday morning.  “We’ve had fires across the street from my business and my business was saved. Fire departments up here are excellent. They do a wonderful job. All of them do,” Gratthoff said.

photo by Paul Gratthoff

The church was built in 1940 and served as place of worship for the Croation community of Calumet. However it has sat vacant for some time. It was purchased three years ago by an Ann Arbor resident who had plans of preserving the building with the intention of highlighting the history of Slavic immigration. However, a project of that nature often comes with unexpected expenses and she decided to sell the building to a local attorney last fall, who also had preservation plans for the building.

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