Fire destroys historic downtown Luther storefronts

"This is really sad," say residents

LUTHER — A late night fire in downtown Luther on Tuesday completely destroyed two buildings and may have caused smoke damage to others. 

Luther Fire Chief Don Nixon told the Star the grocery store and the former hardware store are a "total loss.”

Although it was originally thought that the post office and Luther Lodge, which are next door, might have suffered some damage from the fire, Nixon said that was not the case.

“The only thing that burned was the grocery store and the hardware store,” he said.

The fire department was called out about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night and were on the scene until about 5 a.m. fighting the fire, Nixon said. About 10 different fire crews were on hand to help quell the flames.

Jose Rodriguez, of Jose's DJ servic,e told the Star that he was at his business when the fire broke out and made an announcement to clear the street.

"There were people around and cars parked there, so I went and told people they needed to move their cars because I knew the fire trucks would be coming," Rodriguez said. "I was watching them fight the fire and taking photos, and I saw when the front walls of the store fell down. It is really sad because just the other day we were here downtown celebrating Luther Days."

After leaving the scene, crews from the Luther Fire Department were called to return to attempt to control additional fires coming from the roof of one of the buildings.

“There were three layers of roof where they built roof on top of roof and it got into that,” Nixon said while on the scene. “Now there are shingles underneath that are burning, and we can’t get to it.”  

He added that the flames are expected to keep appearing until they are able to get an excavator on site.

As of right now, there is no indication of what caused the fire, Nixon said, but that will be determined over the next few days. The fire marshal will be doing a full investigation.

No one was at the stores when the fire broke out and no injuries have been reported, Nixon said.

Luther Fire Department was assisted by Cadillac Fire, Evart Fire, Hersey Fire, Leroy Fire, Lincoln Township Fire, Pleasant Plains Fire, Reed City Fire, Tustin Fire, Webber Township Fire.  Cherry Grove Township Fire (Wexford County) went on standby in case their assistance was needed.