The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Aurora Street re-opening expected today


March 9, 2018

Larry Holcombe/Daily Globe

WORKERS WITH Fahrner Excavating knock down a portion of a wall at 102 E. Aurora St. after the Feb. 21 fire that killed three people and destroyed the building and property next door. Workers expect enough of the building will be demolished that Aurora Street will be reopened today for the first time since the fire.


Ironwood - The process of demolishing the structures at 102-104 Aurora St. continued Thursday, with workers hoping to have the downtown street re-opened some time this morning.

Work resumed Wednesday on the structures destroyed in an early morning fire on Feb. 21 that left three dead. The fire destroyed the multi-story structure at 102 E. Aurora that housed Chelsi's Corner boutique on the street level and two floors of apartments above it, as well as the unoccupied building next door.

Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials had stopped work until tests for the presence of asbestos could be completed, but Ironwood City Manager Scott Erickson said the majority of the asbestos was removed on Wednesday.

"Some of the environmental work was completed yesterday, and that was down in the basement," Erickson said Thursday. "Down in the basement they had to remove some asbestos on some piping, so that was all done yesterday. So the contractor is now able to get back in ... and is continuing with the demolition work."

Erickson explained Fahrner Excavating is knocking down standing walls, making the area safe and allowing Aurora Street to re-open for the first time since the fire.

"That will essentially be the extent of (the company's) work, and then the owner has to hire a contractor - which could still be Fahrner or it could be another contractor - to actually do the excavation and removal," Erickson said.

Fahrner Excavating owner Ken Fahrner said the plan was to have the street re-opened sometime this morning.

"The thing is with something like this, it's safety first. It's the first priority," Fahrner said. "So the time-line will work out the way it works out."

A small amount of asbestos may still be at the scene in roofing material, Erickson said, but workers were separating it so it could be disposed of properly.

While the demolition process has begun, the investigation into the fire and its cause continues, Ironwood Public Safety Director Greg Klecker said Wednesday.

"It is still open, it will remain open and (the cause) is undetermined still," Klecker said.

He previously said the fire was deemed suspicious and the investigation into the incident was ongoing until it is determined whether criminal charges are merited.


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