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Pine Ridge fire aftermath: Time for much reflection

Finally. About seven weeks after a roof fire was reported at the Pine Ridge Apartments in Marquette, most residents are being allowed back into their homes after being displaced at sites such as Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome and then Lakeview Arena, although some people stayed with family and friends.

The Marquette Housing Commission, which manages the income-based complex, sought the temporary housing. Marq-Tran also got involved by taking busloads of residents from the Superior Dome to their apartments to get medications or other items, and then back to the Dome.

It’s a great relief for the residents to return home. People typically want the comfort of familiar surroundings as opposed to a public space for their living arrangements.

However, it was unfortunate the process took so long.

Social media played a big part in helping Pine Ridge residents, with the community almost immediately offering aid. That aid continued when the residents stayed in the American Red Cross shelters, with the Salvation Army providing meals and businesses donating food.

We still can’t help but wonder why it took so long for the residents to be allowed back into their homes.

Even though the fire didn’t completely gut the building, it did cause some damage, and officials had to make sure it was safe for people to return.

That might be small consolation for a person whose life was in limbo for weeks, waiting for an answer.

Another long wait probably will be learning the cause of the fire, although again, that might be of little solace to a displaced resident.

Maybe this is a typical scenario of what happens following an apartment fire, particularly one in which municipal government is involved. Such a fire has to be handled differently from a private, single-structure fire, with the Pigs-N-Heat organization often stepping in to provide monetary donations and local motel lodging in such situations.

Could things be expedited next time something like this happens? Maybe, maybe not. However, it’s a good idea for officials to examine the process and learn from it.

There’s always room for improvement.