with gallery: Fire evacuates Rick's American Cafe, Amer's Deli in Ann Arbor
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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.