“If any city can bounce back, it’s Holly.” Residents resilient after massive downtown fire

HOLLY, MI — As she strolled down Broad Street on Wednesday morning, Nicky Mitchell carried her concern for her hometown.

The 56-year-old woke up this morning to discover the massive fire in downtown Holly on Tuesday June 21 and immediately jumped into her car to assess the damage, especially when she heard that one of the Lost businesses was Battle Alley Arcade Antiques. Mall.

Related: Large fire damages buildings in downtown Holly

She first visited the business when she was five years old to find antiques with her mother.

Now, as the store that held so many items from his childhood and before is damaged by the flames, Mitchell feels this loss personally for the community.

“I’ve been to the Arcade all my life. My mom used to move a brick out of the floor in one of the rooms and put a magazine under it as a fun trick to check every time they came back. And he was still there,” she said when she last visited just two weeks ago to get doll dresses. “I still shop there all the time. I collect a variety of small salt and pepper shakers and vintage children’s books and dolls.

Mitchell held out his visibly shaking hand as nerves got the better of the moment as he realized that one of the iconic stores in his life was gone forever.

“It’s a historic site. People come from all over to see it. I’ve lived here all my life, so I’ve always come for the comfort and to know it’s here,” she said, with a slight whimper in her voice. “Now I don’t even think about the store, but also about the objects in it. The people working there were so nice and loved talking to you while you shopped. I will miss it so much. »

Crews battled a six-alarm fire for several hours in downtown Holly that damaged several buildings in the North Oakland County village.

The Holly firefighters were joined by support from several departments including Brandon, Milford, Highland Township, Troy, Oxford, White Lake Township, Linden, Groveland Township, Independence, Grand Blanc, Springfield Township, Rochester, Fenton as well as the North Oakland County Fire Authority.

Derek Sanderson has lived in downtown Holly since October.

It was shortly before 4 p.m. when a neighbor knocked on his family’s door while on the phone with 911 about a fire originating from a building in the alley.

Sanderson said he witnessed parts of the building that houses the Battle Alley Arcade Antiques mall “falling down the alley” within a football field of his family’s residence, and flames were also spotted at the Holly Hotel and Andy’s Place, a family business. bar and grill on Broad Street.

“I grabbed my wife and kids. I asked her to pack everything up,” he said, with a police officer telling him that if the fire hit the building next to their residence, their building would be next. to be touched.

Along with the smoke and fire swirling around the scene, Sanderson recalled the sounds of transformers blowing, one a few feet away, prompting him and other residents to flee to a nearby party store parking lot and leave the area without power.

“It’s like the heart of the city, these two places alone (Holly Hotel and Andy’s Place),” said Holly resident Kristina Clegg. “That’s what thrives on Holly. Everyone loved the burgers, loves the family. We all love the Holly Hotel. It’s heartbreaking. I’m so sad. It’s so devastating.

As of Wednesday morning, all that was left of the Battle Alley Arcade Antiques mall was large piles of bricks and rubble. Same goes for some parts of Hotel Holly, but not the whole thing.

Heavy damage was clearly present inside and outside Andy’s Place.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Lisa Berishha, owner of Avia Family Dining, a restaurant one block from the blaze, said she was deeply saddened by the blaze as the downtown business community helps sustain.

“These buildings are so old. They are historical. I am especially sad for the Holly Hotel,” she said, saying it was the third time in the hotel’s history that it had caught fire. “For us, everything will be fine. For these companies and for Holly, it’s just sad. There is no way for them to do anything but destroy whatever is left and build a new one.

Berishha said the people of Holly are really excellent and very friendly, while sharing her hopes for a speedy recovery.

Andy’s Place is a business that many hope will bounce back quickly because it not only had the best burger in town, but also in Oakland County, said Holly resident Christopher Lauinger.

A cook at Andy’s Place for three years, Lauinger said customers come from far and wide for the drinks and the atmosphere, but mostly for the burger.

“Never frozen, always a choice cut of meat,” he said. “It was one hell of a burger, that’s for sure.”

Lauinger was working when the fire broke out, seeing smoke coming in thick waves from the parking lot behind the building.

Once he saw flames, he immediately called the owner, turned off all kitchen equipment, and evacuated the building.

“When I came out into the alley, I saw nothing but a big line of fire flying along the telephone pole. It went fast. It went so fast. It just kept going, and going. It was something else,” Lauinger said. “Andy’s Place brought me in and always treated me like family. I love this place. I loved coming to work. This town is in my blood.

“Holly has been in great shape for the past few years, between weddings and everyone who comes to visit the Great Lakes National Cemetery…It’s a close-knit community. Holly is a village that is to the north but not to the north. It makes you feel like you’re living up north in a small town. It’s a great place to live. If there’s one town that can bounce back, it’s Holly.

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