You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 10:40 a.m.

Dexter business owners assess damage after Christmas Day fire

By Amalie Nash


Dexter firefighters work at the scene of a downtown fire on Christmas Day.

Photo by Elise Troczynski

Several Dexter business owners are spending the day assessing damage and cleaning up in the aftermath of a fire downtown on Christmas Day.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but authorities say it appears to have started in Fancy Stitch Apparel at 8118 Main St.

That store had significant damage and isn't expected to open for some time, officials said.

Other businesses damaged in the 8100 block of Main Street included:

• The Family Barber Shop next to Family Stitch Apparel. The barber shop had some fire and significant smoke damage, Dexter Firefighter Michael Grissom said.

• The Dexter Pub at 8114 Main Street. It had smoke damage.

• A consulting business above the downtown businesses. It had smoke damage.

• The Home Store at 8122 Main Street. It had smoke damage, Grissom said.

The Lighthouse Cafe, also in that block of businesses, was not damaged.

Firefighters were sent to the businesses before noon Friday after a smoke alarm activated. The Dexter Area Fire Department's main station is less than a block away.

A tenant who lives above Fancy Stitch Apparel pointed out haze in his apartment, Grissom said. That tenant was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and was released Friday evening, Grissom said. He is staying with friends.


Several businesses were damaged in the fire.

Photo by Elise Troczynski

Tracy Lambert, who owns Fancy Stitch Apparel with her husband Kevin, said they were home on Christmas when they heard about the fire. When they arrived, everything in the store was "black," she said.

"Everything was sooty and smoky and black," she said. "It didn't look like the fire was roaring - it was just sooty."

The couple opened the business on Main Street just six months ago after operating it out of their home for several years. Lambert said the business was seeing an upswing before the fire.

"It's horrible - we had the best month ever in December and had so many positive things, and then this happened," she said.

They can't enter the store until Monday, after fire investigators are able to get inside. The Lamberts hope to salvage what they can - including a $15,000 embroidery machine - and reopen in a temporary location if possible while the downtown store is being repaired.

Lambert said they expect to know more in the next couple weeks and urged customers to check the store's Web site for updates.

Peter Theocharakis, owner of the Dexter Pub, said one of his employees - who is also a Dexter firefighter - alerted him to the blaze. His family had just finished opening Christmas presents, and said he immediately headed downtown.

"It could have been worse," Theocharakis said. "I'd say it's about 60 percent smoky. I just feel bad for the others whose businesses are more damaged."

A catastrophe cleaning crew was inside the Dexter Pub cleaning it this morning. The business, which was originally expected to open at 11 a.m. today, will open its doors at 5 p.m., Theocharakis said.

A total of about 50 firefighters from several departments responded to the scene. Grissom said a large response was requested as a precaution since many of the buildings are nearly 200 years old and don't have adequate firewalls to stop the spread of fire.



Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 1:01 a.m.

Wow... I'm shocked at the out lash everyone is throwing at "mom". All she's pointing out is it's a good thing there's a system in place that works. Let's not cut that back. You guys really want to bash her for thinking ahead? She's not mentioning any city like some of you are suggesting. All communities are cutting back on public safety as a way to cut costs. Her point, I believe, is at what point to you focus more on cutting costs and protecting people. Glad they were all there and able to respond. Point is, don't take that away from the community. Now ease up on her. Sheesh...


Sun, Dec 27, 2009 : 5:24 p.m.

OK guys, can we get over all this political BS and get to the real meaning of this story: the tragedy and the heroes. What a loss for the business owners at a time when owning/running a business is difficult, money is short and jobs are scarce. I hope all the businesses are open quickly with minumal loss. To all the emergency personnel - thank-you! I have witnessed these VOLUNTEERS in action years ago when the same block of buildings was on fire and my brother's dental office was destroyed. The firefighters took time to cover an antique kitchen cabinet ("because she loved antiques") and another one covered the brand new panoramic x-ray machine ("because it looked expensive"). These men and women risk their lives to come to our aid and I think they deserve a standing ovation and pat on the back (for starters!) instead of someone using this tragedy to prop up their soapbox!! Thank you to all involved in the aid of the people, businesses and life of downtown Dexter! Bless you all.


Sun, Dec 27, 2009 : 10:17 a.m.

Glad the damage was not worse thanks to the work of volunteers and paid staff. Looks like socialist government programs do actually work! (yes, I have an agenda with this comment)


Sun, Dec 27, 2009 : 9:47 a.m.

Good job to the Firefighters. Scooter I am pretty sure they are all paid. Maybe not full time, but all definatly paid. This is a tradegy that directly relates to the current events in A2 and lots of other communities. If mom wants to relate it to the deep cuts other cities are making I don't see a problem with that.


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 7:23 p.m.

Also, mom, you might READ THE WORDS as well, in the article it said the 50 firefighters were requested "as a precaution", so there were MORE than enough firefighters to go around. Using scare tactics and false accusations does nothing for your position but undermine it's credibility. I am tending to dismiss your argument out of hand merely by it's misrepresentation of facts and fear mongering aspect and looking to "blame" someone for something that hasn't even occurred (nor is it likely to, IMO). When you have a coherent argument, based upon fact, not fear, then I will be willing to listen and give it due attention, but as it is, I find it difficult to bear and even more difficult not to mock.


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 7:12 p.m.

I agree with The Picker, how low will mom go to carry political baggage. This is a story about an event that went well, without tragic loss of life and with minimal loss of property, yet she uses it as a platform to complain. And proffers as probable fact things which she does not, in fact, know. I don't know where the 50 firefighters came from; neither do you. The point being, the system worked, fire was contained and the situation was handled admirably. So WHY do you choose to complain? I don't know for sure, but I can specualte; PERSONAL AGENDA. That said, I wish to congratulate the fine men & women who put themselves out there to help others in dire need. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 5:35 p.m.

First, I want to say that the fire was a terrible thing to occur on Christmas day. I am so thankful that there was no loss of life. Second, I wanted to give my opinion about the comments that have been made. I have worked my whole life in EMS (this encompasses police, fire, & ambulance). People who work in these types of fields have a need to come to the aid of people in need. We have to try to save people. My belief is that paycheck or not, when a disaster occurs... these people will be there no matter what.

The Picker

Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 5:03 p.m.

It's disgraceful that mom has to use some one else's tragedy to score political points. How low can you go?

The Picker

Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 4:53 p.m.

Good thing the Fire dept is next door!


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 4:30 p.m.

AND Scooter dog, where do you think some of those 50 firefighters probably came from?


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 4:28 p.m.

I'm talking about public safety as a whole, Scooter dog. READ THE WORDS.

scooter dog

Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 3 p.m.

Hey momatwill The fire in question was in DEXTER not in ann arbor as you are insinuating.80 plus percent of the fire fighters that responded to the fire are volunteer,paid for showing up so get you facts straight before running your yap about something that has nothing to do with DEXTER


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 12:20 p.m.

What a tragedy. Best wishes to all the shop owners.


Sat, Dec 26, 2009 : 11:26 a.m.

"A total of about 50 firefighters from several departments responded to the scene." When called to an emergency, they respond - no questions asked. What would happen if there were inadequate firefighters to respond to this emergency? How much damage did those 50 firefighters prevent? How many of them put themselves in danger to protect someone else's property? Let's show them how much we appreciate them by laying them off and making cuts to public safety as a whole. Then when our property goes up in flames and our families are stuck inside burning structures, we can all blame them because they wouldn't give up a percentage of their already low salaries.