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Posted on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

Ypsilanti firefighters douse small ceiling fire at former bookstore

By Kyle Feldscher

An electrical surge or lightning strike during Thursday afternoon’s storm started a small ceiling fire in a vacant Ypsilanti building, according to fire officials.

Lt. Mike Kouba, of the Ypsilanti Fire Department, said firefighters were working on barricading off Normal Street where a tree had fallen Thursday. During that work, they were dispatched at 2:20 p.m. to 901 Washtenaw Ave., the former Mike’s Bookstore, which is now vacant.

Kouba said a lightning strike or electrical surge from the storm conducted into a gas line. The plastic around the gas line burned and lit a small fire in the ceiling, Kouba said.

“We had to extinguish the fire and we called in Ypsilanti Township,” he said. “It was kind of an odd thing with the electrical storm outside.”

DTE Energy turned off the gas to the building and fire crews were able to put out the small blaze. There was no one in the building and no one was injured.

Kouba said it took about an hour for firefighters to clear the scene.

Mike’s Bookstore closed in 2012 after the Nebraska Book Co. declared bankruptcy.

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Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Ann English

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Why was the gas on in a vacant building to begin with? Or is it merely a vacant suite of a building?