Plainwell business owner sets her mind on cleanup
“Beauty from ashes—that’s what God says,” said Sharon Battaglia.
The Otsego resident and artist said those words are on her mind as she sets about the hard work of cleaning up in the aftermath of the fire that ruined the workshop portion of her business in downtown Plainwell, Another Man’s Treasure.
Fire officials suspect it is likely faulty wiring that sparked the blaze that raged through the workshop next door, dubbed One Man’s Trash, in the early morning of Tuesday, Nov. 11.
With its six apartments vacant upstairs, no one was injured in the fire.
Public safety director Bill Bomar said, “The state fire marshal called it ‘undetermined.’ It appears the fire started above the ceiling and below the second story floor in the One Man’s Trash section.”
Plainwell Public Safety Detective Sgt. John Varley said the city’s patrol officer noticed smoke pouring from the building at 120 S. Main St. and called in the fire at 4:15 a.m.
“When we arrived, the first floor was fully involved,” Varley said.
City fire crews, joined by crews from Gun Plain, Otsego and Allegan, fought the blaze—which spread to the second floor—for nearly three hours. Nearby M-89 at the main downtown traffic light was closed in both directions according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
“We prevented the fire from reaching either neighboring building,” Varley said; crews attacked the fire from the roof and from the street. “It’s a balloon construction; that means the fire can get in the walls and go right up; there’s no fire stop.”
He said power was cut for several hours to that portion of the block while crews dealt with the fire.
Battaglia uses the workshop to repurpose used wood and other material into furniture and wall art.
In the days since the fire, she has begun the hard work of cleaning her store of the heavy smoke damage. Battaglia intends to reopen.
“We have to take everything off the walls and shelves,” she said. “And the heat’s off until we have the ducts cleaned.
“We have to wash everything. It’s going to be a few weeks (before it opens).”
She said she had owned the store 11 years and had the workshop for about five to six years.
She awoke the morning of the fire to a friend calling her at 5:30 a.m.
“She’d been calling since 4:30,” Battaglia said. “And right as she was calling, the sheriff was in the driveway to tell me.”
With only $25,000 in renters insurance, she said she’s going to have to clean out the workshop herself in order for money to be left over to replace her tools. By Thursday, she’d already added up more than $75,000 in damage.
“I started with a paintbrush,” Battaglia said. The thousand-degree heat of the fire has melted or warped her wide variety of saws, woodworking tools and air tools.
She had just purchased a table saw; she said its box was still on the floor next to it.
“The radio melted. Really, it’s everything,” she said.
E.J. Hart owns the neighboring Hart’s Jewelry and said, “The fire crews just did a phenomenal job. I can’t praise them enough.
“Sharon’s a survivor, so I’m very hopeful for her.”