Investigators say Byron fire was arson


According to the Shiawasee County Sheriff's Department there have been no suspects identified in connection with the fire that destroyed several historic buildings in downtown Bryron Monday morning.

Crimestoppers of Mid-Michigan is offerfing a reward up to $1000 for any information pertaining to this case. You can call 1-800-CRIMESTOPPERS or the sheriff's department at 989-743-2202. The Michigan State Fire Marshall's office is also offering a $5000.


Investigators say the fire that destroyed a several historic buildings in downtown Byron early Monday morning was arson. State fire officials tell NBC 25 they wrapped up their investigation Wednesday. They say the fire was set intentionally in the apartment above Janelle's restaurant. The fire caused an estimated $1.3 million in damage.

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A total of six businesses and apartments were damaged by the fire. The Shiawassee County Sheriff's Department is investigating a pool of suspects.

History abounds on S. Saginaw Street that runs through Byronâ??s downtown. Itâ??s the quiet Shiawassee County communityâ??s pride and joy. The buildings date back to the 1800s.

But an undiscriminating fire early Monday morning tore through the brick and destroyed several downtown mainstays, including Janelleâ??s family restaurant, which drew locals and visitors alike.

â??Fire has no mercy," Burns Township Fire Chief Rick Musall said.

Nearly a dozen fire departments responded to the 100 block of S. Saginaw St. around 2:30 a.m.

"Everybody was friendly and it was just a great place to work,â?? Michael Walters said, as he surveyed the damage Monday morning. Walters started working as a cook at Janelleâ??s two weeks ago.

A Michigan State Police helicopter hovered above gutted buildings to determine the fireâ??s pattern and progression.

Early investigation indicates the fire started somewhere near the back of the restaurant, the entryway to the second-floor apartments.

No one was inside at the time. Residents sleeping in a nearby apartment were woken up and evacuated.

The fire had a good half-hour head start before firefighters arrived.

The burnt-out buildings are images tough to bear.

â??Kind of depressing. I'm looking at it, man," Walters marveled.

Four other buildings including a salon and hardware store were damaged.

â??Just trying to keep business here is hard enough,â?? Carol Flynn said.

â??All the businesses in this whole little strip right here you know, Iâ??m pretty sure everybody's going to be affected in the impact of it in the community,â?? Walters said.

State marshal Lenny Jaskulka said he expects to know more by Wednesday.

But it doesn't take an investigation to know more than a hundred years of history is gone.

â??This is tragic though,â?? Walters said, shaking his head.