Fire Destroys Businesses in Belleview
Business owners in one community are looking for a new location after a blazing fire destroyed a strip mall early Saturday morning.
More than a half dozen businesses remain closed as a result although some are saying it could have been worse.
"Just totally devastating. Both of these guys put everything they've got into this thing," said Kerry Toomey.
It's a shop on US Hwy 441 in Belleview that's been open for the past 8 years, but an early morning strip mall fire destroyed Toomey Tools.
Kerry and his two sons Tim and Dan tToomey own the place.
Kerry said an alarm when off on his sons phone on Saturday at around 5a.m.
"He was expecting maybe a break in or some problem at the store but he found the whole plaza on fire," said Kerry.
It took more than 30 fire fighters to control the blaze.
Marion County Fire Rescue officials said it started in the Blossoms Florists and Gifts store and continued to burn through the plaza.
"We opened the door and looked inside and there is massive water damage, smoke. To me it looks like a total loss," said Kerry.
The fire also destroyed Kathleen's Cuttin Corner that's been open at this location since 1983.
"There is a lot of things you can say about a fire, but I have never experienced until now and it is well overwhelming," said Kathleen Payton.
Payton is already back in business.
The owners of a nearby salon Haircuts and More gave Payton some space after getting a call from Linda Evans who owns a couple of nearby shopping centers.
"She said it's time to help a local girl, so I said let's see how this can get started. So it was a simple phone call and of course hair dressers do stay together," said Rachel Morley who is the owner of Haircuts & More.
While some are already making some money others like Kerry and his sons are putting together a new shop that's only a plaza away from where a blaze damaged their store, but not their business.
"We do plan to be open at the new location Friday morning. I don't know how we are going to do, but we are going to do it," said Kerry.
Both Kerry and Payton said friends, customers and the community have really helped them through this difficult time.
Kerry said they have insurance but it's not enough to cover what they have to rebuild.
Payton hopes to be at a new location in about a month.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's Office.
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