Dowagiac firefighters set up fans to blow out the remaining smoke inside the downtown Hardings Supermarket. One of the store's back rooms caught fire on Tuesday morning, causing the staff and customers to evacuate. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
Dowagiac firefighters set up fans to blow out the remaining smoke inside the downtown Hardings Supermarket. One of the store's back rooms caught fire on Tuesday morning, causing the staff and customers to evacuate. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Archived Story

Fire breaks out inside Dowagiac Harding’s

Published 12:19pm Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Customers and staff were evacuated from the Harding’s Supermarket in downtown Dowagiac Tuesday morning after a fire broke out inside one of the store’s back offices.

Officers with the Dowagiac Police Department responded to the fire at 10:48 a.m., after a store employee called the police. Store employees were alerted to the fire by a delivery person. An employee tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher before being forced from the building due to smoke and fumes.

By the time officers arrived, the store had already begun the process of evacuating the customers inside, said Director of Public Safety Steven Grinnewald.

“Our officers arrived first on the scene, and employees were still getting people out of the building,” he said. “You see smoke coming from the front of the building.”

Six firefighters fought the blaze, which took around 15 minutes to fully extinguish, with the fire safely
under control by 11:15 a.m., Grinnewald said.

“It looks like they got the fire knocked out fairly quickly,” he added.

No injuries from customers or staff were reported as a result of the fire, though one employee was looked over by medics with Pride Care Ambulance due to inhalation of smoke and extinguisher chemicals, Grinnewald said. One firefighter suffered a minor fall injury while combating the fire, and was transported to Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released.

No major structural damage to the building appears to have occurred as a result of the blaze, Grinnewald said.

An initial investigation by the fire department determined that a faulty light fixture was the likely cause of the fire.

The store reopened its doors to customers later in the day.

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