Grand Traverse Pallet Employees, Fire Crews Save Building From Fire

A Northern Michigan business is left cleaning up after a fire ripped through the building.

Tuesday morning several fire departments received a call about a fire in Ellsworth.

The sound end of Grand Traverse Pallet had gone up in flames.

9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist John Harrington talked to business owners about where they go from here.

“I saw the black cloud from Marion Center Road,” says Mike Rottman.

Grand Traverse Pallet owner Mike Rottman was driving back to work this morning as his employees were evacuating the building.

A worker in the debarker booth spotted the smoke.

“The power went out and I thought the power had just gone out, but then I heard fire,” says Candace Rottman. “So I was trying to get computers and different things out of the building as quick as we could.”

As the fire grew, everyone ran for safety.

“It went real fast but it’s limited to the sawmill portion of our business,” Rottman says. “Trucks are all fine. The nailing portion is fine. We have some automatic nailers and they’re okay.”

The firewall between the north and south end of the building contained the fire, saving a large portion of the business.

“We have a tremendous amount of inventory of finished pallets, of stock that’s ready to get nailed together and then of pre-processed logs. So I’m optimistic, says Rottman.

Five fire department were called to help.

Banks Township Fire and Rescue is investigating what started the fire.

“Just the operation of the sawmill. There’s a lot of equipment running. Baring gets hot, little bit of sawdust on it or something like that. There’s just a lot of flammable material in there that can combust,” says Chief Mark Groenink.

But Mike and Candace say they won’t let the fire slow down their business.

“We’ve got pallets that are loaded in trailers and some things will happen tomorrow without too much of a blip, but they’ll be other things that are long term planning that we’ll need to be doing,” Rottman says.