Fireproof: Mayor Gets to Work Day After Blaze Damages His House

Less than 24 hours after a fire damaged his house, Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison leads city officials in a strategic planning meeting.

Mayor Jim Ellison Credit: Patch File Photo
Mayor Jim Ellison Credit: Patch File Photo
Always a big fan of firefighters, Mayor Jim Ellison said he is once again touched by the humanity of the Royal Oak Fire Department.

Last January in bitter cold, Ellison had an opportunity to talk to and thank firefighters still on the scene of a fire in the 700 block of Midland that extensively damaged a Royal Oak home.

When a crane belonging to a local tree trimming company fell on the garage of a Royal Oak house in the 1100 block of Second Street in August, the mayor stuck with firefighters through the wee hours of the morning until the situation was resolved.

'It's my house this time'

"I am used to watching the fire department at work," Ellison said. "So it was surreal to drive down my street and see the smoke billowing and know that it's my house this time."

Ellison said he received a call at about noon on Friday from his wife Jodie. 

"All she said was 'Our house is on fire. Come home.'"

The Ellisons' dryer caught fire and the fire spread to other items that were stored in the basement. 

"When I got there I saw Jodie trying to get our cats out of the house. We told the firefighters there were five cats in the house and we saw these big burly guys go in and one by one bring out one of our cats. Caring about animals is an extra step for them, but they did it."

The Ellisons lost one cat, Paulie, in the blaze. The cat enjoyed hanging out in the basement, the mayor said.

Mayor is fireproof

Looking resilient, the mayor was at work at the city's strategic planning meeting on Saturday morning.

"There has been outpouring from the community and my neighbors," Ellison told his colleagues. "It's been heartwarming."

Many people are asking what they can do. He doesn't know yet. 

"We are going to be fine. We have a place to live and crews are at our house now taking inventory. The fire melted the incoming power so we have no lights and we are worried about our pipes freezing."

The structure doesn't appear to be severely damaged but there is a lot of smoke damage, the mayor said.

On a positive note, the mayor told city officials, "I live in an old house. When this is all over, I'll be living in a practically new house."

And then it was back to work for the people of Royal Oak at a strategic planning meeting that began at 9 a.m. and went until about 4:30 p.m.


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