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Tag Archive | "gas"

Iconic Rockford eatery destroyed by gas fire


The Corner Bar burned for hours Monday

by Beth Altena and Kellie Lamphere, Rockford Squire

UP IN SMOKE: What started as a dumpster fire progressed into a gas meter explosion and fire fed by gas from the fuel line which consumed The Corner Bar on Monday.

It wouldn’t be the first time all of downtown Rockford went up in flames, but thanks to the persistent efforts of five fire departments, the fire damage was contained to just one building, Rockford’s most iconic structure and business, The Corner Bar. The building was one of few in downtown that survived the fire of 1898, but did not survive the fire of 2017.

Dave Jones, Chief of Rockford Public Safety said his department received a call at about 5 a.m. about a fire in the dumpster behind the building at 31 N Main Street on the west side next to Kimberly’s Boutique. Firefighters put that fire out within five or ten minutes.

Firefighters had just left the building where they had been in the basement evaluating any damage when an explosion occurred that lifted the roof off the building.

“That was the angel on our shoulders,” Jones said. “Four or five firefighters had just walked away from that area.” The heat and pressure from the dumpster fire had damaged the gas meter outside the building and caused the huge explosion. Fed by gas from the fuel line, fire raged for the next four hours as firefighters fought to control the flames.

Firefighters from Rockford were joined by crews from the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. “We are lucky Rockford is in the center of those four townships,” Jones noted. Unlike the fire of 1898, the firefighters were able to limit the fire damage to just the one structure, although neighboring businesses, closed for the duration.

Jones said first responders put millions of gallons on the structure as DTE Energy tried to locate a shutoff for the gas. “It was like a blow torch,” Jones said of the blaze. Firefighters were unable to shut off gas to the building through the meter, which was the epicenter of the fire, and crews from the energy company were unable to locate a remote shutoff that ran to the building. Eventually, after three hours of gas fed fire, a fuel line under Courtland Street was located and DTE was able to crimp the line and shut down the gas.

“For three hours gas fed that fire, it was like a big blow torch up in all that timber. We were fortunate no one was hurt.” Jones also described to reporters how close together all the downtown buildings are, with some connected to each other.  He said the efforts of the departments contained the fire.

Owner of The Corner Bar business, Jeff Wolfe, said the building will be rebuilt and Jones repeated that at City Council that evening. He called the loss of the building devastating and the business the heart of Rockford.

Owner of the building Andy Tidey, who currently resides in Colorado, was flying in Tuesday to see the damage himself and collaborate with Wolfe on a game plan moving forward. He said the building was insured, but he is surprised by the extent of the damage.

“I never imagined it could all go,” he said. “It’s only a half block from the fire department.” He said he has good insurance on the structure and it is his intent to rebuild and reopen The Corner Bar, which reports say dates back to the 1930s. The business is best known for its chili dogs and its chili dog eating contest, with the record of 43 dogs in four hours.

The restaurant featured Hotdog Hall of Fame names engraved with customers who were successful in eating twelve chili dogs in four hours. According to Mark Bivins of Creative Concepts, who engraves the names, there are records of the people on the plaques and how many dogs they ate.

Tidey said it was his expectation that he and Jeff will put their heads together and plan how to rebuild. “There are a lot of questions and a lot of numbers. I hope that is something we are going to work out.” He said part of what made the restaurant the icon it is the ambiance, the names on the wall and the wooded interior. “That’s what we want to recreate.”

Tidey said he received a phone call from his mother in the early hours of Monday morning and she told him the building was on fire. He was afraid to google it and instead sent a text to Jeff, who told him the whole building was in danger. “He said ‘It’s burning up and they can’t stop it, they can’t stop the gas.’” Tidey said it is shocking to think how different things would have turned out if the meter had not blown.

“It would have been just a little fire, it would have been easy to repair.”

Rockford firefighters said the same thing. Ken Phillips Jr. said first responders were thrilled when they put the smaller fire out. “We’re going to look like heroes because we saved the Corner Bar,” he said. Then the explosion happened. “It was just like in the movies, the windows all blew out.”

He said his fellow fire fighters were on the scene for over 20 hours and were grateful for the assistance of the other departments, who worked well with each other and were very professional.

Phillips said the outpouring from the community was overwhelming. Throughout the day over 5,000 people went to the scene and many thanked the firefighters for their efforts. He reported that restaurants brought them food and water throughout the day and night as the structure continued to smoke and smolder.

“That’s Rockford, that’s why people come back or stay in the first place.”

That sentiment was repeated at City Council with members of the public thanking Chief Jones for the hard work of his team and Jamie Davies’ crew, along with the other departments.

The building was purchased from Donald Berg by Corner Bar LLC on March 16, 2001 for $435,000. In 2017 its taxable value was $295,700 for an estimated total value of $591,400, according to the Rockford assessors office.

Phillips said he heard there was speculation about preserving the front façade of the structure and that restoration companies can number the bricks of historic buildings and recreate them.

Tidey said it was too early to even estimate a timeline for rebuilding the structure, “I’m still reeling like everybody else he said the day of the fire.” He did seem confident the business and building would survive even this. “You know it would be great to come back even bigger and more successful.”

On Tuesday evening Jones said that it would be five to seven days before streets surrounding the burned out Corner Bar can safely reopen.

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Police seek info on gas drive off


 

N-Gas-drive-off1-Sand-LakeWesco and the Sand Lake Police Department is asking for help to identify this vehicle. They said this vehicle has driven off without paying for gas at Wesco in Sand Lake for the last month. As you see in the picture, vehicle has a ball hitch and a yellow sticker in the rear side window, and there also appears to be some stickers on the rear of the vehicle.

If you have any information please contact Sand Lake Police Department at 616-799-1900.

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Five winter car care tips that save you money


CAR-Five-winter-car-care-tips

(BPT) Winter is when car trouble can cause big financial problems. So how do you keep your car winter-ready for severe weather and protect your budget? The right preventive care is essential, and the good news is that there are many simple things you can do to get your car ready for extreme weather without blowing your budget.

Before severe weather strikes, make sure to check these items off your car-care list:

* Avoid the “E.” A full tank of gas provides a comforting feeling. It’s also an effective way to protect your car in severe weather. An empty tank leaves room for the moisture inside to turn to ice. Keep your tank at least half full at all times to help prevent starting issues caused by a frozen fuel line.

* Check vital fluids. As simple as filling up, make sure to check and top off your vehicle’s antifreeze and examine your brake system, which includes your brake fluid.

* Double-check the tires. Driving on underinflated or worn tires makes it even more difficult to drive in ice or snow. Use a tire gauge to test the tire’s actual pressure and apply air as needed. Your tires should have the appropriate amount of pressure printed on its side. To check the wear of your tires, insert a penny into the tread. If you can see any part of Abraham Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tires.

* Be ready to battle ice. Ice on the roads is one problem, but ice on your windshield is another problem entirely. Prestone’s De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid is designed to help melt ice and frost fast for streak-free and clear visibility down to -27 degrees.

* Prep for emergencies. Sometimes even the best planning can’t prevent a severe-weather accident. That’s why it’s good to pack a winter survival kit with an ice scraper, shovel, blankets, extra clothing, bottled water, jumper cables and a first aid kit for the backseat or trunk of your car. And don’t forget the cat litter—in case your tires need a little extra traction.

Not all winter car care maintenance needs to be handled in a mechanic’s garage. Easy DIY projects can help ensure your vehicle’s performance this winter and save you time and money in the long run. Get started on your preventive list today and you’ll be ready for whatever the season brings.

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Gas prices hit new record


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On Wednesday, June 5, a new record was set in Cedar Springs when the price jumped to $4.29. That’s higher than in August 2008, when it rose to $4.25.

This most recent jump came on the heels of a 29-cent price hike Saturday, June 1, when gas prices in Cedar Springs jumped from $3.86 to $4.15, then dropped early in the week to $4.00.

While the national average price has fallen, Michigan now has the second highest gas prices in the country. Only Hawaii is more expensive.

Reportedly the BP Whiting Refinery in Indiana and Exxon Mobil Joliet Refinery in Illinois have been down for major facility upgrades or issues.

“While the national average has given up some ground to start the driving season, motorists have certainly seen a lot of ups and downs in different areas of the country,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “One thing remains the same throughout the United States, and that is we’re still reliant on oil refineries to process crude oil into gasoline. When they go partially offline whether expected or unexpected, there’s going to be tightness in gasoline supply, and that has an almost immediately impact at the gas pump,” DeHaan said.

What are you doing to help alleviate the pain at the pump? Send us your tips. Email them to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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Simple steps so save gas without driving less


Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

(NAPS)—Just because gas prices go up, that doesn’t mean your driving has to go down.

You can’t control the price of gas but you can control how much you use with some simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance.

Save Gas And Cash

Consider these simple steps to save gas without driving less:

• Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.

• Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by 3 percent.

• Replace dirty or clogged air filters on older vehicles to improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

• Change oil regularly and gain another mile per gallon.

• Check the gas cap. Damaged, loose or missing gas caps let the gas just vaporize into the air.

• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph.

• Avoid excessive idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Warming up the vehicle for one or two minutes is sufficient.

• Avoid quick starts and stops. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.

• Consolidate trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas as one longer multipurpose trip.

• Don’t haul unneeded items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy by up to 2 percent.

“Some motorists think they are saving money when they put off needed vehicle maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “What they don’t realize is that neglecting routine maintenance can end up costing a lot more. Keeping your car running efficiently and modifying your driving behavior is the best way to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and keep more money in your pocket. Fuel consumption is directly related to vehicle care and driver behavior and both can have a significant impact on how much motorists pay at the pump.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

Learn More

For a free copy of the council’s “Car Care Guide” or for further information, visit www.carcare.org.

 

 

 

 

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Save money on gas


Don’t like the price of gasoline? Drive 55 mph instead of 70 or 75 and you will save about one gallon of gasoline out of each 11 gallons. You’ll also save wear on your tires and car parts. Driving over 60 mph and you’re blowing wasted gasoline out of your tail pipe.

In the 1970s, we had an oil embargo by the Arabs against the U.S. The top legal speed in Michigan and most states was 55 mph, even on the expressway. States that didn’t go to 55 mph lost all federal funds for roadwork. Deaths and terrible injuries went down dramatically.

If just 50 percent of the American people would slow down to 55, there would be so much fuel sitting in the gas stations that the major oil companies would have to sell gasoline at $2.00 per gallon just to make room for the fuel that they purchased overseas. However, the Americans are unlikely to change their driving habits.

David Viau, Cedar Springs


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Gas prices top $4.00


Gas prices shot up from $3.87 per gallon to over $4.00 this week for the first time since August 2008.

Prices in the Cedar Springs area averaged $4.15, before dropping down to $4.08 or $4.09 Tuesday. In 2008, they hit $4.25.

According to Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan, of Gas Buddy.com, such spikes are usually seen in April. “We’re 31 cents per gallon

ahead of our year ago pace (as of Monday), and I’m seriously contemplating revising my January forecasts upward having seen things race higher, faster than expected. If there’s any ounce of good news for motorists, its that such high prices so quickly may mean prices will peak in April rather than May,” DeHaan said.

Some experts have suggested we might see $5 per gallon. Is the high price of gas causing you to cut down on your driving? What are you doing to save gas? Email us at news@cedarspringspost.com or comment on this story on our website at cedarspringspost.com.

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Have turkey will travel


Are you going to be one of the 1.33 million residents traveling 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday this week? That’s how many people AAA Michigan estimates will be on the road Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27. That’s nine percent more people traveling in Michigan this year than last year. Nationally, the number is up four percent, to 42.5 million.
“This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year,” noted AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner.  “Despite the uncertain economy, our projected increase shows more travelers are choosing visiting family and friends over frugality this holiday.”
Vehicle travel remains the most popular form of Thanksgiving transportation.    Ninety percent of Michigan travelers will go by vehicle, down from last year’s ninety-four percent.  Nationally, 90 percent of holiday travelers will also go by vehicle, a four percent increase.
Gasoline prices have fallen 15-20 cents over the last week, depending on where you live. In Cedar Springs, they were $3.26 at press time, and still about 50 cents higher than a year ago.
“Gasoline prices have continued their slow decline in the last week across a solid majority of the United States, with the national average sagging to its lowest level since this past February,” according to GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Many motorists may be giving thanks for the lower gasoline prices until they realize that average prices will still easily exceed prior Thanksgiving Day records,” he added.

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Gas hits record high price


Early enthusiasm on the part of traders over the death of Osama bin Laden on Sunday quickly dissipated Monday, and sent gasoline prices skyrocketing on Monday afternoon to a new all-time high of $4.29. The last time they were nearly that high was August/September 2008. Experts say that traders originally felt things would be more secure now that bin Laden is gone, and that drove oil prices down the lowest they had been in three weeks. But fear soon set in, causing prices to rise.
As of press time Wednesday, gas in the Cedar Springs area still ranged from $4.29 to $4.26.

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Gas rises above $4


The price on Wednesday, April 27.

Drivers across the area were stunned Monday when gas prices surged to $4.17—the highest they’ve been since summer 2008, when they hit $4.25 per gallon for regular.
There does not appear to be a shortage, and the rise in price is being blamed on legal speculation. Whatever the reason, drivers are taking steps to minimize the impact on their pocketbook.
Landon Case told us on Facebook that he now lives in Los Angeles, and their price is $4.50. He says he has been using public transportation, and that it would affect how much he travels this summer.
Victoria Gonzalez said her family won’t be going far from home this summer either. A “staycation” and pool parties will be more in line with their budget.
Dan Webb recommended driving more fuel efficient cars, but others noted that they should make them more affordable. Another reader said he donates plasma twice weekly to help pay for gas.
Other readers have noted that they go slower on the expressway to save on fuel.
Several readers told us that they think the government should be doing something to stop the rising prices.
Do you have any hints for drivers? Email us at news@cedarspringspost.com.

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