Last Thursday’s Huron Commons condo fire puts local fire on defense, nobody hurt

Huron Commons Fire
The day after the Jan. 7, 2016 fire at Huron Commons.

Dexter Area Fire Department officials are still investigating the scene of one of the worst fires to occur in Dexter in recent memory after the fire was reported by a resident of the condo complex at 7 p.m. Thursday night.

While nobody died or was even physically harmed, that doesn’t meant that Thursday night’s fire was a routine fire call for Dexter’s firefighters. They were accompanied by their peers from the fire departments of Chelsea, Ann Arbor, Hamburg and Ann Arbor, Scio, and Putnam townships.

“We got the call from someone who said they saw the flames outside of the building, which is an indicator of a fairly large event,” said Dexter Fire Chief Bob Smith. “When the crews arrived the flames were on the roof in the back of the building.”

The severity of the fire immediately tripped the alarms that brought more than half a dozen other departments to the scene to assist Dexter. During the day Friday Chelsea still had personnel on the scene assisting DAFD Captain Donald Dettling, who was meeting with the building architect, the builder, and cleanup crews.

Smith said that the Huron Commons fire required a lot of personnel, as the crews had to fight their way into the building with hoses due to the intensity and progression of the fire upon their arrival.

“The fire had enough of a start on us that we had to go on defensive mode throwing water on the building from outside until we could get inside and do the overhaul,” Smith explained, adding that the building is “a total loss” by this point.

Smith added that everyone was out of the building by the time the first firefighter arrived on the scene, although there are conflicting reports that a cat may or may not have been rescued from the building before the fire got too out of hand.

As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, the cause of the fire is still undetermined.

Some residents were at the building Friday afternoon talking to firefighters and just taking stock of the situation they’re in.

Multiple sources confirmed that all residents of the condo building have found temporary lodging either with friends and family or at a hotel that is being paid for by their renter’s insurance.

Huron Commons resident Karen King was one of those at the scene. She said it was an unwelcome “surprise” to have this happen right after the holidays. However, she’s grateful for her own health and safety, the safety of her cherished cat, and the graciousness of a good friend of 10 years who is putting her up until her hotel lodging in Ann Arbor is ready to receive her.

“The insurance is going to pay for the hotel for the time being and we’re all okay, so I’m thankful and trying to stay positive,” King said.

She recounted her experience during the fire, which started on the floors above her lower level unit in the back of the building.

“It started in the back and the wind blew it forward to the front of the building,” she said. “The person above me and four units in the very top were destroyed. My unit wasn’t touched by the fire, aside from the porch.”

Those with any more information or who wish to share information on this and other stories with staff can email Sean Dalton at




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