The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Three downtown fire victims identified


February 24, 2018


Ironwood — The three victims who died in Wednesday’s fire in downtown Ironwood have been identified.

Mark Arnold Verrete, 57; Patrick James Somerville, 51, and Levi Dean Watkins, 27, all of Ironwood, lost their lives in the fire, Ironwood Public Safety Department Director Gregory Klecker said in a news release Friday afternoon.

“The Ironwood Public Safety Department extends our sincere condolences and sympathies to the surviving family members for their losses in this tragic incident,” Klecker said.

The release of the names comes after an earlier announcement a third body had been removed from the scene Thursday.

“There are no more remaining persons unaccounted for that we know of,” Klecker said.

The fire began in 102 E. Aurora St. — the home of Chelsi’s Corner boutique and a number of apartments on the upper floors — early Wednesday morning, with the department responding to reports of the fire at 3:49 a.m.

Ironwood and Hurley fire departments battled the flames through much of Wednesday, eventually containing the fire to 102 E. Aurora and the adjoining storefront at 104 E. Aurora, and preventing it from spreading further down the block. Numerous other agencies and groups assisted the effort in various ways.

Three people were rescued from second and third floor windows during the fire and taken to Aspirus Ironwood Hospital.

Klecker said Thursday he didn’t have their medical information, but he understood they were in good condition.

The first confirmed death from the fire was announced Wednesday as someone pulled from the scene was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The recovery of the second body was announced Thursday.

Klecker said the fire remains suspicious until the investigation determines whether criminal charges are merited.

“We’ve got a fire. We don’t know how it started, who was involved, was it arson, was it an accident — any of these (questions) makes it a suspicious thing,” Klecker said Thursday, adding the department is taking steps to preserve any necessary evidence until the investigation is finished.


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