An inferno broke out at the Ann Arbor Technology Center at 400 W. Washington St. around 5:20 P.M., Thursday afternoon. The blaze, which overtook the entire block, was laid to rest Friday morning at 10:07 A.M. At its zenith, the smoke could be seen by students at both Meijer locations.

J. Brady McCollough
Ann Arbor City Fire Department firefighter Robert Tudor hoses down the flames on Third Street Thursday evening.
J. Brady McCollough
Ann Arbor firefighter Brent Kostanko takes a moment to breathe Thursday afternoon while trying to stop the fire from causing more damage to area buildings.
J. Brady McCollough
Ann Arbor Police Department Officer Rebecca Otts attemps to clear away crowds to make room for a fire truck coming down Third Street Thursday night.

“We have every truck in the city that’s available,” said Michael Skrypec, assistant chief of the Ann Arbor Fire Department, adding that no one was injured over the course of the whole ordeal.

Skrypec said one reason for the difficulty of extinguishing the fire was the jumbled construction of the building.

“It’s a big cut-up,” Skrypec said. “There are actually four or five buildings that are all tied together.”

He said that fire fighters were able to attack the remaining areas of concern more effectively after the fire had cooled down a bit and heavy equipment was brought in to clear a path for the crew.

“The construction company made it easy for us by knocking down a bunch of walls so we could get to most of the hotspots,” Skrypec added.

Skrypec said there were no fire fighters rushing into the flames, either.

“We call (our strategy) defensive, which means we don’t put anybody in harm’s way, everybody sits out and we just lob water at it — treat it as a big trash fire,” he said.

The building, which was being demolished, is the future home of a new YMCA. Previously, it was a home and workplace for a large creative community, said Brendan Stern, an Ann Arbor resident who lives only a few houses away from the block.

“There used to be a bunch of installations for like artists that rent out rooms to put on their work,” he said.

Michelle Hinebrook, a painter who had a studio on the second floor, said the Technology Center was the home to many organizations, including the Five Five Five Galley, Flockworks Studio, and a dance studio.

“There was a dance company right below my studio,” she said.

Hinebrook added that she feels the Technology Center is something you don’t find in most cities, and its destruction represents a great loss to the community.

“Ann Arbor likes to see itself as a cultural hub, and it is — to a certain extent, but it’s taken a great loss,” she said.

She added that efforts should be made to find another low-rent space for the artists to relocate to, as most who were formerly based at the Technology Center have relocated to Ypsilanti or Detroit.

“It’s sad that things are just stopping for the creative community that existed there,” she said. “When all the artists leave the city, you are going to feel the after-effects of that.”

Hinebrook added that the building, despite it’s exterior, was a sight to behold on the inside. The entire second level had hardwood floors and large industrial windows. The walls, she said, were covered in murals.

“It was really beautiful,” she said.

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