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A legend lost

Ki Cuyler’s destroyed by early morning fire

Courtesy Photo The popular Ki Cuyler’s Bar and Grill in Harrisville was destroyed by fire early Friday morning, as seen in this photo provided by a witness. The business was a tribute to former Major League Baseball player Hazen Shirley Cuyler, a Harrisville native, who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

HARRISVILLE –A popular bar and grill in Harrisville named after a Hall of Fame baseball player from the village was destroyed by an early morning fire on Friday and the community is still coming to grips with its loss.

Ki Cuyler’s, which was established in the early 1970s, was the former home of Major League Baseball player Hazen Shirley Cuyler, who was affectionately known to his teammates and fans as “KiKi.” Cuyler played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was on the World Series-winning Pirates in 1925 and is listed as one of the top 100 players of all time by the MLB.

Harrisville Fire Department Chief Dan Klukowski said his department was called to the fire at about 2:45 a.m., and, when he arrived at the scene, the structure was fully engulfed with flames. He said volunteer firefighters from Mikado, Greenbush and Lincoln also helped battle the blaze until the scene was cleared at about 9 a.m.

The Alpena County Sheriff’s office, Michigan State Police and the Alcona County central dispatch also were key during the emergency, Klukowski said.

Klukowski said the business was a complete loss and the fire presented challenges for firefighters.

“It was a complex fire, because the building was made out of wood and the fire spread quickly,” he said. “There was a concern for the safety of the firefighters, but the nearby structures were never in danger.”

Klukowski said the cause of the fire is still unknown, but he expects there will be an investigation conducted to determine the cause.

As word of the fire spread, people in Northeast Michigan posted photos of the blaze on social media and shared stories of their visits to the popular business.

Kaitlyn Nelson said working at the bar and grill was her first job, and she did so each summer when she was home from college. She said a lot of good friends and memories were made during her time there, and the community is still in shock from losing one of its beloved hangouts.

“The restaurant meant a lot to me, and it was always bittersweet leaving it and the friends I worked with at the end of summer,” Nelson said. “It’s definitely sad to see the building gone and I will always remember working there and the people I have met there.”

Klukowski said a pair of local businesses provided support to firefighters. He said Subway brought coffee and cookies to the scene, and Kris Mart donated doughnuts.

Like Nelson, Klukowski said the loss of Ki Cuyler’s will leave a hole in the community, which proudly supported it, as well as the memory of the legendary ball player.

“It was an iconic, historical piece of the community that was very popular and will be missed dearly,” he said. “I know I’ve had my share of dinners there.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpeanews.com.

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