Firefighters evacuate Battle Creek building before collapse

2:18 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
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Firefighters are at the scene of a fire at the bar On Deck, formerly the Sports Page, at 225 W. Michigan Ave. Monday morning. (Courtesy: Mac McCullough/The Enquirer)

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (Trace Christenson, Battle Creek Enquirer)-- A downtown Battle Creek sports bar, On Deck, was destroyed by fire early Monday.

The four-story building at 225 W. Michigan Ave. was heavily damaged by the fire, reported at 4:21 a.m. The roof collapsed and a portion of the rear west wall collapsed. Battle Creek firefighters were pouring 2,000 gallons of water per minute on the fire and water was running out the front door of the building.

Battalion Chief Howard Holt said when the first firefighters arrived they found heavy smoke pouring from the top of the building.Soon flames were visible blocks away.

Holt said firefighters entered the building and made it to the second floor but were unable to stay inside long as the roof began to collapse. He said all the firefighters were told to evacuate because the building was not safe and they began to pour water onto the fire from the outside.The boom from a ladder truck towered over the building as water was directed into the building from above.

Holt said there was a danger that more of the building might collapse.

The business was closed at the time of the fire and Holt said no injuries were reported. Firefighters were battling the blaze in temperatures of about 18 degrees.

The business was in the former Sports Page Restaurant and Lounge which closed in 2011. On Deck opened in April but closed a month later amid allegations by one of the business partners that the project was over budget and that employees were not being paid.

A settlement between that partner, Stephen Anderson and Kelly DeMoss, left the business in the hands of DeMoss. She reopened On Deck in late November along with her fiance Rob Buckhannon, who had been involved with the business from the beginning.

DeMoss told the Enquirer in November that about 45 people were employed at On Deck and that thousands of dollars had been spent to refurbish the business.

"We are coming back even twice as better as before," DeMoss said last month. "I'm thrilled about that."

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