Last night, a devastating fire destroyed the M&A Automotive building, located in Handy Township on Converse Road. As it turns out, this business was practically in our backyard and, unfortunately, we had a front-row seat to the conflagration.
The wind was blowing hard and the flames were whipped high into the clear night sky, blotting out the full moon from our view with black smoke. Explosions could be heard from a great distance as barrels of oil, etc., burst under the heat and fire. Numerous calls were made to 911 and it wasn't but a few minutes, the Fowlerville Fire Department was there. There wasn't much they could do until a bit later in the evening when they contained the fire from spreading with large sprays of water. The next morning, this was all that was left. Being a bit introspective, as we stood by watching something of which we could be of no help, I wondered if that is how so many felt when major fires visited portions of the downtown area.
In 1878, the Reason House -- also known as Independence Hall -- burned to the ground. It was at the southwest corner of the downtown area. The Commercial Hotel was built in its place. In 1891, the wooden buildings at the northeast quadrant burned to the ground. The fire leapt across North Grand and also caused major damage to the Palmerton Block. At the turn of the century, the wooden Lockwood Exchange burned and the brick structure now standing at the northeast corner of South Grand Avenue and Church Street was built to replace it. The list goes on and on.
So how helpless did the residents of Fowlerville feel as they stood and watched buildings burn to the ground while flames shot high in the sky? We can be truly thankful there is now an organized fire department in Fowlerville; with both paid and volunteer firefighters. Before 1880, no such company existed.
I haven't heard yet if M&A Automotive will come back from this, but we are so very thankful that no one was in the building at the time.