2017 Year in Review: Story No. 3

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

DUMPSTER FIRE DESTROYS ZIPPERS

Gentleman's club considered a total loss

This is part of a series looking back at 2017.

The sound of sirens pierced an otherwise quiet Sunday evening, as the Milford Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at Zippers Gentleman’s Club on April 9. The department received the call at approximately 7:56 p.m.

Dan Lewis, who became the new owner of the club in January, confirmed all customers and employees were able to exit the building without injury.

“Crews found the dumpster on fire against the north side of the building with the wind driving it into the attic area,” a statement from the Milford Fire Department read. “Due to multiple additions and common ceilings in the structure, crews had an impossible job sectioning off and stopping the fire.”

Four buildings – including Second Hand Depot and a rear warehouse – were damaged.

“All buildings are a total loss, with some areas of Second Hand Depot and its warehouse area having some salvageable items,” the Milford Fire Department statement said.

Lewis said the north wall of the club collapsed, likely making the fire harder to contain.

“With the winds last night, once that north side opened up, it kept pushing through the building and that’s how it spread to the antique shop,” he said.

Sam Wedeking Excavating was called to the scene at approximately 9:30 p.m. and began turning over the debris. Crews continued to work through the night, extinguishing hotspots. Come morning, a fresh wave of onlookers arrived to look at the charred walls, bar stools and awnings where a building once stood.

Zippers was nearing the final stages of an interior remodel prior to the blaze. A sports bar area was in the works to broaden the appeal of the business.

“We were 90 percent done on the inside,” Lewis said.

Lewis had planned to begin painting the club’s exterior, reveal a redesigned logo and host a grand reopening in the coming weeks. The remodeling was scheduled to be complete before high-traffic summer events, such as Walleye Weekend and Memorial Day weekend.

Milford Zoning Administrator Don Brinkley said the club was considered an adult cabaret, which is no longer allowed in the city.

"Now that it’s been destroyed, it can’t be rebuilt for that use … Because it was in place when the new ordinances were (made), it was accepted as a nonconforming use," he said.

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