Seventeen firefighters arrived at Nickels Arcade Sunday as the
shopping center filled 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 damaged an
office located on the upper level inside Nickels Arcade on State
Street at about two p.m. Sunday afternoon.
AAFD Lt. Dan Stabley said units were dispatched to the 300 block
of South State Street and were able to contain the fire within 15
“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 under
investigation 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 firefighters tried to contain
Firefighters 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,
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
Curious bystanders, such as Ann Arbor resident Jeffrey Olsztyn,
stopped to watch as firefighters 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
“Smoke started rolling out of that one corner … and
then the whole Nickels Arcade started filling with smoke,”
said Olsztyn, who continued to watch as firefighters knocked out
three windows to the office.
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