Charlevoix Businesses Deal With Aftermath Of Destructive Downtown Fire

Decades of history and memories reduced to rubble.

Downtown Charlevoix businesses are dealing with the aftermath of a destructive fire. 

The Sunday fire destroyed two businesses along the downtown strip.

Six other businesses are dealing with smoke and water damage.

The downtown fire had crews from all over the area helping to contain it so even more businesses weren’t damaged.

It took more than 100,000 gallons of water to put it out.

Right now, Johan’s Cafe and the Round Lake Gallery of Art are in ruins.

A Michigan state police fire marshal was on scene Monday morning, but they have not determined the cause yet.

 “Fire codes have changed dramatically, so there are not a lot of fires in more modern buildings now, but these are some older buildings that some of them I’ve heard estimates that some of them may have been here for up to 100 years,” says Dep. Chief Scott Hankins, Charlevoix Police Department.

Apartments above the buildings really only have smoke damage.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire.

Years of hard work went up in flames with Sunday’s fire.

Two business owners are dealing with the setback as their customers offer support.

Sunday’s fire left the businesses in rubble.

Many of them are still looking to see what they can salvage from the inside, while others, like Johan’s Cafe, there’s not much left to save.

"We were open every day. I even come in on Christmas morning and open for three hours. I have regular customers and I know them all by name."

John Sheets served people their coffee every morning for six years in Johan’s Cafe.

"If I don’t know your name, I know your drink. If you are a double skim caramel latte, I might know you as that but I know, you know, I know everybody to say hi to them. I know where most of them work," explains John. "I’m probably going to miss them as much as they miss me."

Next door Kirby Dipert’s store, Charlevoix Wear, is dark and wet.

"All of the merchandise is smoky, for sure and much of it’s wet from the water they had to put on the fire," says Kirby.

All four stores affected share the same damaged roof, so the future is unknown.

Kirby and John say the town supports them.

"I’ve just been flooded with text messages and phone calls, slaps on the back and hugs and everything. We are small town. That’s the way we stick together," explains Kirby.

John says, "We will be back. We will be back, maybe not right there. Maybe? But that is going to take a long time to put back together."

Insurance agents have been there all day, piecing together just how much damage this fire caused.

For any of these businesses, though, it’s uncertain when they can reopen again.