By Sara Powers

CALUMET, Mich. (AP) — A fire that destroyed three buildings in a historic block in the Upper Peninsula occurred just two days before a couple planned to open a gem and mineral shop.

This photo shows the destruction of a fire in downtown Calumet, Mich., on Monday, May 24, 2021. State and federal authorities are pitching in as investigators try to determine the cause of the fire that destroyed three buildings in the historic downtown of the Upper Peninsula village. Investigators in Calumet were treating it as a crime scene. The fire was reported late Friday, May 21, and stretched into Saturday. (Garrett Neese/The Daily Mining Gazette via AP)

Brandon Looper and Jeanne Liuska were 50 miles away when they got a call about the Friday night fire in Calumet. They lost their apartment as well as a collection of coins, antique toys, and mining maps, The Daily Mining Gazette reported.

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“They’re one of a kind, and I’ll never get them back,” Looper said. “Nobody will. They’re lost forever.”

They’ve been able to salvage at least 100 pounds of an estimated 5,000 pounds of copper at the site. Looper said he put his life savings into the business. He didn’t have insurance.

“I didn’t want to swing a hammer my whole life, so I thought I’d try something new,” he said.

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Now he’s willing to raise a hammer if someone is hiring.

“It’s not snowing, and the bugs aren’t biting. … It sounds bad, but we’re Yoopers. We find a way to pick up the pieces,” Looper said.

Looper and Liuska are staying at a motel. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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