Seventeen firefighters rushed to Nickels Arcade this afternoon
as the shopping center began filling with smoke. The arcade was
quickly evacuated, along with nearby shops and restaurants,
including Bivouac and Ashley’s Restaurant and Pub.

The Ann Arbor Fire Department confirmed that a fire caused
damage to an office located on the upper level inside Nickels
Arcade on State Street at about 2:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

AAFD Lt. Dan Stabley said units were dispatched to the 300 block
of South State Street after multiple calls and were able to contain
the fire within about 15 minutes.

“Ann Arbor city fire units responded for a reported fire and we
found it appeared to be a room and contents fire and it appeared to
be contained in the room,” Stabley said.

Battalion Chief Fred Nimke said the fire originated in Suite 101
in the upper level of Nickels Arcade. Although the fire is being
investigated by the Fire Prevention Bureau, Nimke, who was at the
scene, gave a possible cause for the fire.

“It appears that we had a short of some kind of electrical
problem in a computer area,” Nimke said.

Stabley said there is currently no damage estimate, and the fire
did not spread to nearby buildings or offices. But Ann Arbor Police
Department officers blocked off South State Street between Williams
Street and North University Avenue as the firemen tried to contain
the fire.

The firemen had to blow out the windows and enter the Arcade
using a ladder from outside. Nimke said the largest problem faced
by firefighters was gaining access to the building.

Suite 101 was damaged, but once the firemen were inside, they
were able to prevent the fire from spreading to any other areas,
Nimke said.

A crowd of people gathered around as the stores were
evacuated.

“We were in Bivouac and they told us to come out because there
was a fire above them. We came out and there was smoke,” said Gabe
Huddleston, who is visiting Ann Arbor from Indianapolis.

Curious bystanders, such as Ann Arbor resident Jeffrey Olsztyn,
stopped to watch as the firemen worked to contain the fire. Olsztyn
was standing near Amer’s Delicatessen when he noticed the smoke and
heard people from Bivouac yelling that there was an emergency.

“Smoke started rolling out of that one corner…and then the
whole Nickels Arcade started filling with smoke,” Olsztyn said.

He continued to watch as the firemen arrived and knocked out
three windows in Nickels Arcade.

“Smoke started billowing out, but in less than 10 to 15 minutes
they had it under control,” he added.

Nickels Arcade is a covered shopping center that was constructed
from 1916 to 1918. It was designed by architect Hermann Pipp, who
also designed Yost Ice Arena. The Arcade is named after John H.
Nickels, owner of the land between South State and Maynard
streets.

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