Woodcarving gallery destroyed by fire.

September 19, 2017

Woodcarving gallery destroyed by fire.



GRANT TOWNSHIP — The Ellen St. James Woodcarving Gallery at 6976 S. 80th Ave., was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours Monday, Sept. 18.

The fire was dispatched 1:35 a.m., said Grant Township Fire Chief Roland Brooks. When firefighters arrived at the scene, the garage that housed woodcarvings and equipment was “fully engulfed,” Brooks said. “It went fast.”

No one was injured, but the building and its contents owned by Bob and Alice Artivee are a total loss, he said. Their nearby house received some damage on the south end, but firefighters saved the home from any major damage.

Alice has been making woodcarvings for 14 years and lost all of her work in the fire. “I lost everything, all my tools,” she said. “I’m still numb,” she said Tuesday. “Those carvings take a really long time to make. That part of my life went up in flames.”

The woodworking gallery, located across the road from the Double JJ Resort’s cabin area and campground, served as a place to showcase her artwork. “It was for everyone to enjoy,” Bob said. It was nestled in the woods just outside of the Village of Rothbury.

The building was insured.

“People from across the road would mosey over,” Alice said. Alice, who is an author, used her pen name Ellen St. James, as the name of the gallery. Her woodworking endeavors were a hobby rather than a business, she said. “I didn’t do it to make money,” she said. The hobby served as “therapy” for her to deal with the sadness of having a daughter who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.

Alice said she does not know at this point if she will resume carving and re-open a gallery.

The cause of the fire presently is undetermined. It is being investigated by the Oceana County Fire Investigation Team, Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast said.

Alice said that she and Bob were asleep when the fire ignited, and Bob heard a noise that awakened him. When they looked out at their garage, they saw that it was completely in flames.

Firefighters from Grant Township, Shelby-Benona and Montague departments battled the blaze. Fire crews remained on scene for four hours, clearing at 5:30 a.m., Brooks said.

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