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Posted on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Fire evacuates Rick's American Cafe, Amer's Deli in Ann Arbor

By Kyle Feldscher

This story has been updated

A fire caused damage and evacuations at Rick’s American Café and Amer's Mediterranean Deli on Church Street in Ann Arbor Monday afternoon. Residents of eight apartments above the businesses also were evacuated.

It wasn't clear at which establishment the fire started, said Craig Sidelinger, training officer/on-scene safety officer with the Ann Arbor Fire Department. The bar and deli are adjacent to each other in the 600 block of Church Street.

Firefighters were dispatched at 4:10 p.m., Sidelinger said. Witnesses reported smoke coming out of the top of the building.

The source of the fire was not immediately clear, but Sidelinger said it started on the ground floor.

Firefighters had knocked the blaze down by 4:40 p.m. but were still on the scene.

It was not clear how many people had been evacuated from the restaurants and apartments on the top floors of the building. About 50 people stood across the street watching.

Nicole Barron was in her third floor apartment above Amer’s and Rick’s when she heard fire alarms ring throughout the building. Assuming it was a drill, Barron wasn’t immediately worried. She said it wasn't until she went into a friend’s apartment and looked out on Church Street that she realized something was wrong.

“We’re on the third floor and we could see people pointing up,” she said. “Clearly something was gong on. We all ran out and we saw Amer’s smoking.”

Barron and Samantha Kritt, who also lives in the apartments at 611 Church St., said smoke was billowing into a clear blue sky and flames were coming from Amer’s. The smoke from the fire could be seen from the Landmark apartments on South University Avenue, Kritt said.

There are eight apartments in the building, each built to house six or seven residents. Firefighters told residents they wouldn’t be able to come back into their apartments for at least three hours while crews made sure the fire was out.

Kritt was just walking into her apartment when the fire started. She fled once she saw other residents start to go outside.

“Everyone was freaking out so I called them (her roommates) and then I called the police,” she said.

While the two undergraduates were happy to see that no one appeared to be injured, they remained concerned about whether any damage had been caused to their apartments.

“I’m really nervous right now,” Barron said, “I have all my stuff up there.”

Church Street was closed between South University Avenue and Willard Street.

Ann Arbor firefighters, Ann Arbor police and Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics were on the scene.

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Frustrated in A2

Wed, Sep 12, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

Ricks is in the basement, Amer's is on the ground level. From reading the article I think we can possibly see where the fire may have started since Sidelinger said it started on the ground floor. And Rick's isn't open that early in the day, nobody to evacuate from Rick's, just an observation.


Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

So that's what that was

Mike Caruso

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

Fire striking the unholiest places of sin in Ann Arbor? Nevermind, I'm not that religious.

Ed Kimball

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

@DDOT1962: Amer may be Arab, but that doesn't mean he's Muslim. Many Arabs, especially many of those in Michigan, are Christians.


Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

@smokeblwr - Amer is Arab, so I think you mean Halal?


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

Amer's is a place of sin because they don't keep kosher.

Ron Granger

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

The smell of smoke cannot possibly be stronger than the smell of urine and bleach that emanates from Rick's.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

"Nicole Barron was in her third floor apartment above Amer's and Rick's when she heard fire alarms ring throughout the building. Assuming it was a drill, Barron wasn't immediately worried." Why in the world would anybody "assume" that any alarm is not doing what it's supposed to, and that there's no cause for immediate worry?


Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

There was an article on a boy who burned his house down, on accident, because he wanted popcorn and mom would not make it. He did and set it too hi in the microwave. What a mess according to that article.


Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

You'd think that college students knew how to not burn popcorn in a microwave...


Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

Or in East Quad ... specifically 2006-2007. Even more specifically, when the alarm went off at 4am, we all went inside, and then it went off AGAIN. Fun times.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

I think jranon spent some time in South Quad, as I did. Nothing more annoying than drunks pulling the fire alarms in the middle of the night in January.


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

It's very typical on any college campus for a fire alarm to accidentally go off from someone opening the wrong door, burning something in their kitchen, or pulling for annoyance. It happens so frequently that it's plausible that the student didn't have a reason to worry. When you've had to wake up at 5AM and stand in the freezing snow in your pajamas because some jerk pulled the alarm for "fun", you may begin to question the actual danger of a situation. Obviously that's not the case in this situation, but the point remains. You can become desensitized in that kind of environment.