Owners of Pine Lake marina begin to rebuild it from the ashes

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PLAINWELL, MICH.-- A week after a popular landmark on Pine Lake burned to the ground, the owners are just starting to put the pieces together. It's just the beginning of a long road ahead.

They said they lost about $250,000 worth of parts, and none of it is salvageable.

“We closed down 6,300 listings in an hour, and we got 300 e-mails. It was like watching the place burn again,” Cooper said.

The Cooper brothers, Pat and Jeff, aren't calling it quits over this overwhelming ash mess. They are already up and running in a portable office. They know the road to rebuilding is long, but they said it's necessary.

“We will do what we have to do,” Pat said.

The Pine Lake Boat and Motor Company is in Allegan County and is known for repairing and selling boats. The marina opened in 1928, and has been part of the community ever since.

“We sold bait, we repaired boats, we fixed motors, we had a history for selling antique parts," Pat said.

The Cooper brothers grew up on Pine Lake, admiring and visiting the marina most of their lives. Seven and a half years ago, they said they decided to make a permanent commitment.

“Jeff moved back from Colorado, and I left my job, and we bought it together,” Pat said.

The marina is internationally known for decades-old boat parts.

“The prior owner didn't use the Internet, so these parts dating back as far as the 20’s just stayed here," Cooper said. "So we put them on the Internet and started selling them all over the world.”

Memories of the fire are still vivid. A week later, smoke could still be seen billowing from the ash and hot spots were still smoldering.

“It was part of history, and now it's part of the pile,” Pat said. All that's left of the brothers' livelihood is a large pile of ash.

“I cried. I wanted to throw up,” said Pat.

“At about 8 p.m. at night, a guy at Pine Lake Grocery called me up and asked me if anybody had called me yet. I had no idea what he was talking about, and he told me the marina was on fire."

“As soon as I got down here you could tell there was going to be nothing left,” Pat Cooper said.

Fire crews were sent out to battle the flames around 8 p.m. February 8. While the structure is said to be a total loss, the owners are determined to rebuild.

As for the cause of the fire, that still remains under investigation.

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