First look: Inside New Buffalo hotel after fire caused by lightning

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NEW BUFFALO, MICH. (WNDU) - We're getting our first look inside the Harbor Grand Hotel in New Buffalo one week after a lightning strike caused a fire.

"This is the front entrance to the Harbor Grand Hotel. And as you can see, the lobby area has been swept up. You can take a look at some of the water damage," Managing Director Robert Kemper told 16 News Now's Kim Shine during a tour of the first-floor lobby.

That damage includes insulation and wires hanging from a busted first-floor ceiling. Kemper said all three floors have some water or smoke damage, but the fire damage was contained to the roof.

"It'll never be the way it was, but it'll be a new version of what it was," he said.

On Friday, cleaning crews stormed the halls of the Harbor Grand as a separate crew installed a temporary roof.

"And then they're starting to rip out all of the debris inside the building from carpet to walls to furniture as well," he said.

Last Friday, a lightning strike caused a scary scene that forced out more than 100 hotel guests and left more than 40 hotel staff without jobs.

Luckily, the owners were able to move some workers to their other hotel and restaurant.

"Our staff's just been incredible, really patient with us. We really saw who they really are in their hearts and their souls, which has been incredible," he said.

He added that the hotel is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, and insurance estimates are in the millions. However, money is not as important to the owners.

Kemper said the empty hotel feels like a shell, and he hopes the guests, who help bring it to life, return when they reopen.

The hotel owners hope to reopen the lobby and restaurant by May at the latest, followed by guest rooms in June