LAKE ORION, Mich. (AP) - A fire that rushed through a block-long
stretch of the historic downtown of the village of 3,500 has
destroyed at least six businesses.
"This is worse than devastating," Village Manager JoAnn Van
Tassel said. "It just went so fast.
She said it appears that the fire started Thursday morning in
the kitchen of the Sagebrush Cantina restaurant. It spread to
nearby businesses, destroying an insurance agency, music store,
real estate office, travel agency and ice cream shop.
No injuries were reported.
Many of the buildings in the Oakland County village about 35
miles northwest of Detroit date back to the 19th century, Van
Tassel said. It remains to be seen whether the buildings' unique
and historic facades can be salvaged.
"What we've got is a string of old buildings constructed in the
1800s and it just went from one to the other," police Chief Jerry
Narsh told The Detroit News. Apartment buildings on either end of
the block were undamaged, he said.
Firefighters from at least four neighboring communities assisted
in the effort, pouring water on nearby buildings to protect them.
"I was out there, and there is a small river filled with awful
black crud running down the middle of the street," Van Tassel
said. She said restoration work on the historic buildings could
take six months or more.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)