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Fire breaks out at house near ISR

Ruby Wallau/Daily
A Pittsfield Township aerial ladder truck on scene at a house fire at Williams and Division Streets Friday night Buy this photo

By Austen Hufford, Digital News Editor
Published January 25, 2013

A fire broke out at a multi-tenant house on the corner of East Williams and South Division Streets at about 6 p.m. on Friday.

The fire required a response from all five stations in the city of Ann Arbor as well as fire trucks from Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, according to Ann Arbor Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard.

“We probably had a two- or three-minute response time,” AAFD Battalion Chief Randy Menard said on scene. “Well, (snow) slows the driving down a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad today.”

Two Huron Valley ambulances were also on scene, and Ann Arbor police vehicles blocked off Division Street at Jefferson, and also blocked Williams Street between Thompson and Division streets. The house is on the same block as the University's Institute for Social Research.

Menard said on scene the department believes the fire was started when frozen pipes were being thawed by a torch.

There were no reported injuries, but AAFD personnel did rescue two dogs from the house. Menard said the dogs were fine and reunited with their owners.

Firefighters brought two ladder trucks and set up two additional ladders to reach the second floor of the house. Firefighters with flashlights were seen breaking windows from inside the house.

There appeared to be little exterior damage to the building, and neighboring houses were not evacuated.

Firefighters deemed the house uninhabitable Friday night. A Red Cross vehicle was on scene later Friday evening to assist and provide shelter to victims of the fire. University Housing officials were also reportedly on scene to place affected students in temporary housing.

Both streets were reopened to traffic at about 8:45 p.m. as cleanup and utility crews arrived on scene.

According to city of Ann Arbor records, the building permit granted to property manager Old Town Realty expired in June of 2011.

Additionally, a 2010 city inspection cited the building’s landlords for failing to replace broken smoke alarms in two of the units. Old Town Realty manages 25 properties and has been in operation since 1972. Company representatives were unavailable for comment over the weekend.

Although managed by Old Town Realty, the property is owned by Ouimet LLC, an enterprise registered to former state representative Mark Ouimet. Ouimet said he is unsure when residents will be able to come back to their homes.

“As of yet, we do not know a move-in date,” Oimet said. “It’s been boarded up to secure everything in the meantime.”

Oimet said he does not yet know the extent of the damages. He said the insurance company will arrive on the scene Monday to assess the house.

AnnArbor.com reporter Ryan Stanton lives in the house and his dog, Stan, was one of those saved by the firefighters.

“Well, my house might have caught fire today, but at least the firefighters saved Stan,” he tweeted.

Friday night’s fire was the second major fire to catch in an off-campus apartment complex in the past month. On Jan. 14, flames tore through a Packard St. apartment complex, sending six residents to the University Hospital and leaving units uninhabitable until further notice.

—Senior News Editor Taylor Wizner and Daily Staff Reporter Sam Gringlas contributed to this report