City Hall in Bay City still remains off limits following a devastating fire on its fourth floor last month.
The WNEM TV5 I-Team has discovered that the company responsible for the fire wasn't following proper procedures when it broke out.
"The cause of the fire was from a roofer using a grinder on the outside of the roof," said Bay City Fire Chief Greg Michelak.
Michelak looks back on the day City Hall burned. Sparks from a tile cutting tool, called a metal grinder, ignited wood resting underneath historic tiles that were being replaced. Frantic moments followed as firefighters worked to put out the fire and contain water damage.
The I-Team filed a freedom of information request with the city to obtain several documents regarding the fire investigation. TV5 also wanted to look over the bidding process for the City Hall roof job. Big questions remain following that fire, such as why was the worker using a metal grinder around all that old wood? Why wasn't he being supervised to make sure a spark didn't ignite the wood? The unsupervised worker left the roof at noon and the fire broke out about 40 minutes later.
A Detroit construction company that placed a bid on the job, but lost out to Gregory Construction talked with the I-Team. Owner Mark Hesse said the fire could have been prevented if the contractor would have followed proper procedures. Hesse said the first thing they should have done was to get a burn permit for that morning. The second procedure, he said, was to have proper supervision.
"You have either the supervision there, necessary to put out any potential fire that may happen, said Hesse. It also requires you to provide for a three hour fire watch after you've done the things that could potentially cause a spark or a fire."
TV5 contacted the project manager on numerous occasions to try to get a comment on what exactly happened to no avail, so TV5 decided to visit his office.
When the I-Team showed up, we were told he wasn't available, and were given the phone number of a law firm in Detroit. The firm also refused to answer our questions.
Meanwhile, Bay City residents are willing to weigh in on the fire that caused so much damage to a building that's on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Probably that's what happened with the fire, the guy was kind of reckless," exclaimed one Bay City resident.
"Actually, when I heard about the fire, I thought it may have been something that was created by the workers," said another resident.
Yeah, they should have been a little more careful," said another.
Insurance will cover the costs of the fire, which now totals into the millions of dollars. But as Hesse told TV5, the money can't replace history.
City officials hope to have the building open for business again by next spring. There's no word on what legal action that the city might consider pursuing.