Historic thrift store in Ann Arbor burns, deemed suspicious

Image 1 of 2

An historic thrift store in Ann Arbor that was is the same building was once part of the Underground Railroad caught fire Monday morning and has been ruled suspicious.

Firefighters, investigators, and Ann Arbor police were called to the early morning fire at the historical St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Ann Arbor. According to detective Lt. Matt Lige, they are treating the fire as suspicious.

"At this point in the investigation we can't determine the origin or cause of the fire. Until we can do that, we're labeling this as suspicious in nature," Lige said.

St. Vincent De Paul is on Broadway in an historic building that was once used as part of the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. The store has been a fixture for 50 years, according to employees.

"Our first thought were that it just broke our hearts. We're a small thrift store, been here since 1968," Marie Williams said.

Customers were also shaken. Diane Fead started shopping at the store when she was in college. She told FOX 2 that she couldn't believe her eyes.

"I'm just heartbroken because when I saw the windows broken, I thought it was a robbery or something," Fead said.

What - or possibly who - caused the fire is still a mystery, even to Williams. She said there were no problems when they closed Sunday night.

"We have no idea right now. It's all under investigation," Williams said.

Authorities are still working to figure out exactly how it happened while Williams and other members of management are working to pick up the pieces with plans to open up shop again in the future.

"The store will be closed for a couple of months but we're going to rebuild. We'll stay right. Right now, we need financial donations, we have a Go Fund Me page right now," Williams said.

If you want to help St. Vincent de Paul, CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR GOFUNDME PAGE.