Fire destroys historic RC building

ROGERS CITY – A historic downtown Rogers City building was destroyed after catching fire Monday morning.

The Fischer Brewery Building on N. Third Street between Superior and Friedrich streets caught fire at around 11 a.m., Rogers City Area Fire Department Chief Mike Kroll said. Firefighters were still putting out the last of the blaze as of 8 p.m. One tenant of the building’s four apartments was hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

The two-story cement block building, once a brewery, had a barber shop and apartments inside, Kroll said. Dating back to 1912, the building had been renovated over the years. Its age, combined with its pitched roof, complicated efforts to quell the blaze.

Firefighters from the Rogers City Area Fire Department were aided by the Posen Area Fire Department, Kroll said. Firefighters had entered the building at one point, but had to retreat as the structure collapsed. The building’s second story collapsed into the first, and the roof collapsed in other places.

They fought the blaze in single-digit temperatures, with a stiff wind adding to the chill. Icicles hung from empty window openings and an awning on the building’s front. A tree out front sagged under the weight of ice.

Employees at the Rogers City Senior and Community Center, located nearby, turned the building into a makeshift warming center. Tracie Miller and Cheryl Krusell said they were on break when they saw one of the tenants running around. He told them the building was on fire, and the two women and community center General Manager Terry Langlois went to make sure everyone was out of the building.

The center canceled its dinner for the night and served the food to firefighters instead, Krusell said.

The fire started in one of the apartments, Krusell said.

Kroll had not been able to talk to any of the tenants as of Monday afternoon, he said, and had no further information as to a possible cause.

Kelli Grulke was home with her son when the fire broke out, she said. One of the tenants knocked on her door and told her the building was on fire.

Grulke’s belongings were uninsured, and the fire destroyed her boyfriend’s things as well. He is currently staying elsewhere, she said. She’ll likely stay with her dad, who lives in town.

“Everything I’ve worked for is for my son,” she said. “It’s gone.”

Crystal Curtis, another tenant, was working when her aunt called her, she said. Her aunt’s husband is a firefighter in another township, and heard of the fire on his scanner. She and her two children will now have to stay with her parents.

Curtis, Grulke and another tenant spoke to Deb Greene, a Red Cross volunteer, about getting assistance after the blaze.

Mayor Beach Hall also helped, speaking with Curtis to make sure she’d been contacted by the Red Cross. While watching firefighters battle the blaze, he said another historic building had gone up in smoke.

“It’s one of the oldest buildings in town,” he said. “There’s not a lot of them left.”

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.