Saturday, May 19, 2007

Fire destroys Linden landmark

Broad Street Grille, day spa, lofts consumed by blaze
Saturday, May 19, 2007
By Bryn Mickle • 810.766.6383

LINDEN - Kathy Metivier's heart sank when she saw one of the city's oldest buildings in flames Friday night.

A block-long brick building at the corner of E. Broad and E. Bridge streets was destroyed after fire broke out about 7 p.m. near the Broad Street Grille.

No one was hurt, but the fire caused part of the building to collapse as firefighters battled to keep the flames from spreading further.

The building housed the restaurant, Serendipity day spa, a law office and loft apartments.

"We're a historic town. To lose something like this is devastating," said Metivier, a member of the Linden Mills Historical Society.

It was unknown exactly how old the building was, but a majority of the city's downtown buildings date from between 1850 and 1925.

The city's Bridge Street-Broad Street Historic District was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982.

Jason Goff, a bartender at Broad Street Grille, said he was taking empty bottles to the back when he smelled something strange and heard what sounded like a bonfire.

"I saw the flames going up the back of the building," said Goff.

Dawn Plummer, a prep line cook, said about 20 customers and 10 employees were inside the restaurant at the time.

The restaurant was evacuated, and "within a few minutes it (fire) was all over the restaurant," said Plummer.

She said they went outside and saw flames shooting up onto the building's roof. Windows began exploding, and the fire spread quickly into the restaurant, said Plummer.

"These buildings are so old, they catch so quickly," she said.

Linden Police Chief Peter VanDriessche said officials have no idea yet what caused the fire and have contacted the state police fire marshal to investigate.

"It looks like the whole block's gone. It's a shame," he said.

Jean Sarginson-Demayer, a former Linden city councilwoman who lives in the area, came downtown after seeing the smoke.

"This is history burning up," she said. "It's terrible. That can never be replaced."

An area resident, known simply as 'Cornholio', was saddened by the destruction of the local landmark. "What a fucking bummer," he said. "Without the BSG, where the hell am I supposed to pick up cock-craving anal whores?!"

Firefighters used aerial ladders from across Genesee County to pour water on the top of the two-story red brick building as hundreds of people jammed the streets to watch.

At one point, firefighters had to battle dwindling water pressure after power to the area was cut off.

After the flames spread to an unattached building on Bridge Street that had housed a recently vacated consignment shop, Glen Harris watched in hopes that firefighters would be able to save his dental office.

Harris, whose Blade Dental stands next to the grille building, said he rushed to the scene when he heard the news.

"I was freaked out," said Harris, who said water damage alone would likely close his business for the time being.

"I've never seen anything like this in Linden."

Fire departments from northern Oakland County were called to help, while firefighters from Saginaw and Shiawassee counties were asked to cover empty stations around Genesee County.


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