No injuries in Kirkish building roof collapse

HOUGHTON – No cause has been determined in a roof collapse of the 106-year-old Kirkish building on the 100 block of Shelden Avenue early Saturday morning, according to Fire Chief Mike Reynolds.

The Fire Department was called to the scene at 12:20 a.m., Reynolds said, after the flat roof of the high-ceiling ballroom on the rear half of the brick building collapsed.

Although the building was unoccupied, it was being renovated for occupancy, said Houghton City Manager Eric Waara.

Building owner Craig Kilpela wouldn’t say immediately whether he expected to save the building, but said he was getting to work immediately to “reinforce what’s there so it doesn’t fall anymore.”

Waara said although no cause has been determined, water weight from melting snow and overnight rain showers appears the most likely factor.

The collapse appeared to be sudden and forceful, with insulation debris scattered a block away and spilling piles of brick rubble on the buildings on each side of the Kirkish building. The building next door on the east was also unoccupied. Eight occupants of the multi-unit residential building to the west were uninjured and evacuated, according to Waara.

Most of the collapse was into the building’s one-time ballroom, which took up the upper two stories in the rear of the four-story building. The second-story ceiling absorbed the force of the collapse.