Pine Ridge residents remain displaced

Smoke and steam can be seen billowing from the roof of Pine Ridge Apartments in Marquette on July 30 as fire crews work to extinguish the blaze. Although progress has been made in making the building safe for the 145 displaced residents, no timeline has been set for their return home. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE — Progress is being made, but there is still no timeline set for when Pine Ridge residents will get back into their homes, officials say.

Marquette Housing Commission Executive Director Sharon Maki said that electrical inspections on the nine-story building have been completed after a July 30 fire on the roof of the structure displaced 145 residents.

Maki said the roofing on the ninth floor of the complex was “severely damaged,” in the blaze which impacted other building systems.

“The fire and related heat damaged the electrical system, fire alarm system and air circulation system,” Maki said in an email today. “Water damage was noted by MHC staff in 19 apartments.”

Maki said there is no timeline for getting residents back into their homes.

She said the biggest concern would be “returning the building to a safe condition as determined by the Marquette County Building (Codes Department) officials.”

Marquette County Building official and Construction Codes Manager Paul Knox said the process of returning residents to a building in this type of situation is not instantaneous because it involves scheduling with a variety of experts and building contractors prior to any inspections.

“We have to make sure it is a safe habitable building before they put them back in there. They (the housing commission) are doing what they are supposed to be doing, they are getting their permits and inspections,” Knox said in a phone interview today. “You can’t just get a designer or a contractor over there the next day. It takes some time.”

Many of displaced residents are staying with family and friends, 15 have been temporarily placed in apartments at Lake Superior Village — another complex operated by the Marquette Housing Commission, while dozens of others remain at a Red Cross emergency shelter at the Lakeview Arena in Marquette, an American Red Cross update released Monday states.

The organization remains committed to helping all those affected by the fire.

“As the ongoing search for more permanent housing options continue for those housed in the temporary shelter,” the release states. “Case workers and mental health professionals remain on the scene and are actively assisting residents with a variety of issues.”

The cause of the fire is still undetermined according to the Marquette City Fire Department.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.