March 20 • 06:05 PM

Fire takes heavy toll on historic roller rink

Owner intends to reopen 62-year-old business soon

Fire damaged rear of Collins Roller Rink building late Thursday night. Owner Don Collins plans to rebuild and reopen in the near future. photo by Tom Wearing.

April 08, 2009
IMLAY CITY — A popular family destination for more than six decades, the Collins Roller Rink on South Almont Ave. was seriously damaged during a fire late Thursday, April 2.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at around 11:30 p.m., when they discovered flames coming from the rear of the 82-foot-by-220-foot building.

Fire Chief Kip Reaves said firefighters' efforts were initially hindered by heavy smoke and heat.

"There was a valid concern that the roof could collapse," said Reaves, "so care was taken to avoid working under those areas."

Because of high voltage power lines above the building, Reaves added, the family at a nearby residence was asked to evacuate their home until gas and electric utilities could be secured.

"Firefighters did an excellent job of knocking the flames down and getting the fire stopped before it got to those power lines, saving most of the building," Reaves noted.

While the building was spared, there was nevertheless significant smoke and fire damage to the city landmark.

"The building itself suffered about 25 percent fire damage, 50 percent heat damage and all of their maintenance equipment was destroyed," said Reaves.

Asst. Fire Chief Rick Horton, who served as incident commander at the scene, acknowledged the efforts of neighboring departments from Attica and Almont townships.

"Working together, a great save was made that could have gone very bad had the fire gotten worse," said Horton.

The fire remains under investigation, said Reaves, but it appears that some roof work being conducted earlier in the day may have been a factor in the fire.

"There was roof work to that part of the building that may have played a part in the ignition of the old, dry roof rafters," Reaves said.

The damage to the building and contents was estimated at between $40,000 and $50,000.

Owner plans to rebuild

Building owner Don Collins said he intends to rebuild and have the rink operating again as soon as possible.

"I want everyone to know that I'm going to get it up and running again," said Collins on Monday morning. "I also want to thank everyone and the community for their kind support."

Also providing assistance at the fire were: Imlay City Police, Imlay City DPW, Lapeer County EMS, Lapeer County Sheriff's Dept. and Montgomery and Sons, for security board-up of the building.

Collins Roller Rink was opened in 1946, and the building had been in constant use as a family business since then.

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