Burned BC Masonic Center forced to cancel events

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The fire marshal is trying to determine the cause of a fire that damaged the Battle Creek Masonic Center.

The Battle Creek Fire Department says around 2:55 a.m. Tuesday, a taxi driver noticed smoke coming from an air conditioning unit in a second-floor window of the building, located at 133 E. Michigan Ave.

Using a thermal imaging camera, firefighters determined there was heat coming from inside the room of the smoking air conditioner. Crews entered the building through a side door and discovered a fire had burned a large hole into the floor of a first-floor room.

Crews found flames inside a basement room below the hole and quickly squelched the fire. As of 7 a.m., firefighters were still at the scene, airing out the building.

The fire department says the fire caused extensive damage to the southwest corner of the building, as well as the basement and first floor.

BCFD says 18 firefighters and two command officers were called to the scene. No one was injured.

The Masonic Center was forced to close because of the damage. Events scheduled at the site have been canceled through at least September.

Board member Jerry Kirkbride said he is grateful the damage was not worse, but the organization is still working to figure out the extent of the repairs.

“I would think the earliest we could probably get back in there is October, but then it could be later than that. At this time I don’t know,” he said.

Other lodges in the area have called to offer meeting space, but people who had events scheduled must find new venues.

Zoie Moser with the Bad Wolf Theatre Company says four of its musical performances were planned for the Masonic Center this weekend.

The two-week camp teaches children the ins and outs of performance and production.

“We have to put together the show, kind of starting from scratch,” Moser said.

The company was not able to get into the building Tuesday because it was closed off for the fire investigation. Bad Wolf Theater Company is hopeful some of the sets and audio equipment can be salvaged.

“We’re not sure what the condition is of all of our equipment. We’re hoping that it’s all OK. We’re hoping that the costumes can be dry-cleaned, but we’re not sure, and we’re not sure how we’re gonna replace it,” Moser said.

Harper Creek High School’s auditorium will now host the company’s production of “James and the Fairy Ring.”

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids for the following show times:

  • Friday, July 5, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 6, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 7, 1 p.m.

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