Chief: Streets near Corner Bar will stay closed for days

Corner Bar
A bird's-eye view of what was left of the Corner Bar in Rockford following an Aug. 14, 2017 fire.

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The head of the Rockford Department of Public Safety says it will be five to seven days before streets surrounding the burned out Corner Bar can safely reopen.

Chief David Jones said Tuesday afternoon that what’s left of the iconic building is very unstable, which is why the area has been taped off. He said crews will place large dumpsters at the curb Wednesday to catch any falling rubble so it won’t damage neighboring businesses.

“People visiting Rockford will have to be very cautious of that. We’ve had hundreds, if not thousands of spectators that are all visiting this local landmark. So everybody should be aware of the traffic patterns that are going to change in the future,” said Jones.

>>Inside Map of current traffic conditions

Jones said his agency, the Plainfield Township Fire Department and Michigan State Police all returned to the scene Tuesday to sift through the area surround the dumpster where Monday morning’s fire started.

Jones said security video from the street shows the fire started between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. – up to two hours before someone noticed the flames and called dispatchers.

The fire chief said officers patrolling the area also didn’t notice the dumpster fire at the time it started.

Jones said DTE is working with investigators to determine how gas built up in the business, fueling the fire for hours.

The fire chief said investigators will interview Corner Bar employees Wednesday to determine if something could have been put in the dumpster that would’ve ignited the fire. He cautioned no foul play is suspected.

The Corner Bar’s owners vowed Tuesday to reopen as soon as possible. As for salvaging parts of the building, Jones remains hopeful.

“As you know, this is an icon for the Rockford community. It’s called the Corner Bar because it truly is the cornerstone of our city. And we’re working very hard with engineers and structural engineers to try to come up with a plan to try to save the front fascade of the building.”

Several downtown Rockford businesses will be donating a portion of their profits Thursday, Friday and Saturday to buy Meijer gift cards to be distributed to Corner Bar workers. The event starts Thursday with a Community Day. Information will be available at 116 Courtland St. starting at 11 a.m. Thursday. Also at that address, you can check out pop-up vendors and a craft table where kids can write thank you notes to emergency responders.

Participating businesses include: The Pump House, Uccello’s, Greenwell, River Babe Threads, Bailey & James Boutique, Sassy Pants, She Archive, Aunt Candy’s Toy Store, Lee & Birch, LA Miller Boutique, Full Circle, LBD Exchange and Haven Creek.

Additionally, Rockford-based River Babe Threats is donating profits from fundraiser T-shirts to the employees.