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Downtown Ironwood fire responders honored Tuesday


March 28, 2018

Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

PRESIDENTS OF the Ironwood Kiwanis, Hurley Lions and Ironwood-Hurley Rotary Clubs hosted responders to the February downtown Ironwood fire Tuesday at the Elk and Hound restaurant in Ironwood. From left are Bernie Hibbeln, of the Kiwanis club; Peter Sturgul, of the Rotary club; Gerald Pisani, of the of the Hurley Lions, and Ironwood Public Safety Department Director Greg Klecker, who spoke on behalf of all of the first responding agencies.


Ironwood - About 40 people who fought the March 9 downtown Ironwood fire that claimed three lives were honored with a luncheon Tuesday at the Elk and Hound restaurant.

Members of the Ironwood Kiwanis, Hurley Lions and Ironwood-Hurley Rotary clubs gathered to say thank you to all the people who responded to the fire at 102-104 E. Aurora St. that destroyed the Chelsi's Corner business and the apartments above it.

"We appreciate this day," said Ironwood Public Safety Department Director Greg Klecker. He praised the coordinated response to the fire and efforts of IPSD fire officer Brandon Snyder, the lead investigator.

Mark Verrette, 57; Patrick Somerville, 51, and Levi Watkins, 27, died in the blaze. The cause has still not been determined.

"We decided to pick up the tab for all who fought the fire," Jim Mildren, Ironwood City Commission member and also a Kiwanis Club member, said Monday at a commission meeting.

Mildren said it was a "historic" gathering of the three clubs.

In the past, he said an annual appreciation day honored farmers, but since there are now so few farms remaining in the area, that event has ended.

Club members noted the fire could have burned down the entire city block of the downtown had not the intense blaze been fought successfully. Other nearby downtown businesses were damaged in the fire.

A proclamation thanking all who fought the fire says, "It is with sincere pride and humble prayers that we thank each of you, both today and every day, for this heroic effort and for putting your life and safety on the line."

In a related matter, Ironwood City Manager Scott Erickson said Monday that Fahrner Excavating has been hired by the owner of the demolished building to continue clean-up efforts that could extend through the end of April.

The downtown street was reopened on March 9, but the rubble of the building remains.

Erickson said the burned out area will eventually be seeded for a grass surface.


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