UPDATE: Investigation into fatal Ironwood fire ongoing

UPDATE: Monday, March 19th, 1:00 p.m.

The investigation into the February 21st fire that claimed the life of three Ironwood residents is still ongoing. A team of federal, state and local investigators combed through the heavily burned remains of a building at 102 East Aurora Street for several days.

While an area of origin has been determined, the cause of the fire remains undetermined. Heavy fire damage, structural collapse and weather conditions have hampered investigative efforts.

Investigators have concluded that the two fire calls to the structure in the early morning hours of that day were two separate incidents. The first call, reported at 2:34 a.m. was a very small cooking related fire that had been completely extinguished. The location of the second fire, reported at 3:45 a.m., has been determined to be in a separate portion of the building.

The Ironwood Department of Public Safety would like to thank everyone in the surrounding communities for their support and assistance through the tragedy. The investigation remains open. Anyone with information related to the fire is encouraged to contact Fire Marshal Brandon Snyder at (906) 932-1234 ext. 13 or snyder@cityofironwood.org.

UPDATE: Friday, February 23rd, 4:25 p.m.

The Ironwood Department of Public Safety has released the identities of those killed in the fatal downtown fire.

57-year-old Mark Arnold Verrete, 51 year-old Patrick James Somerville and 27 year-old Levi Dean Watkins all died in the fire. All three of the victims resided in the city.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

UPDATE: Friday, February 23rd, 11:00 a.m.

Investigators have recovered one more body on Thursday as a result of the downtown Ironwood fire. There are now a total of three fatalities and three injuries.

Two of the three bodies have been identified and an autopsy is scheduled for the third person to determine their identity.

Investigators say there are no more remaining persons unaccounted for that they know of. The investigation is still ongoing.

Eastbound and westbound US-2 Business Route is closed and detoured between Lowell and Suffolk streets. A posted detour on city streets is in effect during the ongoing investigation.

The detour is expected to remain in effect until cleanup and partial demolition of the structure can be completed.

UPDATE: Thursday, February 22nd, 11:00 a.m.

Investigators say they have recovered a body from inside the building. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the identity.

There are at least two people unaccounted for so far in the investigation. Fire Marshals from Ironwood and the Michigan State Police, along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are continuing the investigation.

IRONWOOD — Tonight, authorities are calling a fatal Ironwood fire suspicious. Crews remain on scene tonight at the corner of Aurora and Lowell streets.

Authorities responded to the early morning fire in downtown Ironwood. Right now – one person is confirmed dead and three others are in the hospital. Crews had been working all day to put out the fire that they were called to around 3:50 this morning.

Authorities say three people were rescued from the second and third floor windows of the building which consists of businesses and apartments. Another person was pulled from the scene but was pronounced dead at the hospital. Ironwood public safety officials say these fires are unfortunately something they’re used to.

“It’s one of those things where that you’ve been doing it long enough that it’s not that it’s not necessarily thinking you know what is going on –  it’s thinking of what’s going on, what you need to do to make sure to get everything done as fast as you can,” said Sergeant Matt Sterbenz of Ironwood Public Safety.

According to ABC affiliate WDIO, authorities are also calling the fire suspicious in nature and are not able to confirm at this time whether the victims were residents of the building. There may be more victims but authorities are still working to extinguish hot spots in the building.

Schools in the area were also forced to close due to poor air quality and a resident of ironwood says people are forced to drink bottled water right now because of the water system being affected due to the fire.