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Major fire destroys man's 30 year business in Grand Rapids

Posted at 4:46 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 23:37:41-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Crews worked for several hours to control a fire Tuesday afternoon and evening on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. Firefighters continue to monitor hot spots throughout the night.

The fire broke out around 3:15 p.m. at a building in the area of Eastern Avenue and Oakdale Avenue. When firefighters arrived, heavy fire was coming from the garage.

Grand Rapids Deputy Fire Chief Todd Vanderwall said high heat forced crews to back out while trying to save a commercial building attached to the garage that caught fire. Vanderwall said they couldn't save the commercial building and a portion of the roof collapsed, but it was mostly under control before 6 p.m.

Because of the strength of the fire, it spread to two other nearby buildings including an auto detailing business and a club with apartments above. 50 firefighters worked for 2 hours straight to contain the flames.

Jeff Kimbrel owns the business that is located in one of the buildings that caught fire Tuesday. He has owned 'Painting by Jeff' for more than 30 years.

“We’ve been in the same building for about 32 years. It’s a lot of memories and the families we support and friends," Kimbrel said. "It means, I think, a lot to the whole community.”

Kimbrel first heard crackling in the building before it erupted in flames. That's when he and others began evacuating the building, including tenants who live above the club.

He said while he is heartbroken over what happened to his business, everyone's support is holding him together.

“That’s what’s holding me up," said Kimbrel. "The community, my friends, my family — that’s what’s holding me up, stopping me from breaking down."