Community reacts after fire destroys building in Buckhannon

Upshur

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – A fire ripped through a historical building in downtown Buckhannon on Tuesday, Oct. 5, leaving community members and residents heartbroken.

The building, located on East Main Street, is believed to be a total loss.

Several apartments and four businesses — September Sun, Bacteria Busters Pro, Fosters Marketing Group and Sweet A Licious — were affected by the blaze.

Sweet A Licious, an ice cream shop, was affected by the fire the day before what was supposed to be their four-year anniversary.

Owner Michelle Jack and her husband were in Clarksburg for a meeting, and Jack’s mother was watching the store.

“I had decided to leave my phone in the car because I didn’t want to be, you know, it was the first time meeting with this gentleman. And, I got back out to my car, and I had saw where my mother had tried to call me, like, 18 times. I knew immediately something was wrong,” said Jack. “She told me that the building was on fire. And, you know, that it looked like it was not going to be good for us.”

Jack drove back to Buckhannon to meet over 70 firefighters battling the blaze.

The fire is believed to start in the attic and was electrical in nature, according to Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner.

Jack said her business took very little fire damage, if any, but had more flooding and smoke damage.

“They put over one million gallons of water on the fire, and so we received devastating damage from the water and smoke. The second floor fell down into our establishment, and then the water was a foot high at times. We were there this morning and there’s probably six inches still various places,” said Jack.

The building is still being looked at by insurance, but it is estimated to be a total loss.

“I’m just heartbroken because my husband and daughter and I, and my mother, we put so many thousands of hours into that shop, and it was a labor of love for us. It’s all gone now. You know, I feel like I survived COVID, which, so many small businesses didn’t, and this happened to me,” said Jack, holding back tears.

Jack said she doesn’t know what’s next for the storefront, as she doesn’t want to make decisions while in an emotional state. However, for the time being, she’s hoping to take her ice cream truck around to give residents some Sweet A Licious ice cream.

Mayor Robbie Skinner said while businesses like Sweet A Licious were affected, the outcome could have been way worse without the help of several fire departments in north central West Virginia.

I am so tremendously appreciative of our fire department. We have an excellent department, and I couldn’t thank all of the departments from around the area, from Lewis, Randolph, Barbour counties, enough for coming over here. I mean, they gave up their time, they gave up their businesses and their families to come over here and help us in a potentially dangerous situation. I’m grateful.

Robbie Skinner, Buckhannon Mayor

Buckhannon’s Public Works Department even pitched in, making sure the fire could receive adequate water.

“Our entire Public Works Department, our water plant, they texted me almost immediately when it was started and said, ‘You know, we’re putting all hands on deck to make sure that we’ve got plenty of water. We don’t want them losing water on top of everything else’,” said Skinner.

While the Buckhannon community works to rebuild, Mayor Skinner said their community is strong.

“This is a strong, strong, strong community, and I think we displayed that yesterday.”

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