ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — A fire that broke out early Saturday morning in downtown Vinton has brought business owners and residents to tears.
The Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department says crews responded to reports of a fire at approximately 1:54 a.m. on Saturday, July 2. Upon arrival, first responders found the 101 E. Lee Avenue in flames.
Besides that building, firefighters say several other buildings — including 103 E. Lee Avenue, 107 E. Lee Avenue, and 206 and 208 S. Pollard Street — sustained some sort of damage.
While no one was injured in the fire, Angie Chewning, executive director of the Vinton Chamber of Commerce, told WFXR News through her tears that her heart is broken.
“To say it’s heartbreaking…Vinton is a tight community. We’re a family,” said Chewning.
Residents of downtown Vinton gathered to watch 101 E. Lee Avenue, a building built in 1930, be demolished since it was a total loss. Most residents are calling it a tragedy.
In addition to businesses being gone, apartment residents of some of the buildings have also been displaced.
“My mom reached out to me a little while ago and said that building was there when I was a little girl and she’s 86,” said Chewning.
Jamie McCarthy, a part-owner of the Dogwood Restaurant across the street from the scene of the fire, says he is trying to help the affected businesses as much as he can.
“He rented instruments to the schools, so he’s lost all of his trumpets and stuff that he rents,” McCarthy said about the owners of DR Music, a business located within 101 E. Lee Avenue.
McCarthy says the downtown area was just starting to flourish before this fire broke out.
“It’s just a shame because the whole downtown area was starting to be revitalized and built up, and then we have something like this happen, it’s a really big tragic loss to the whole area,” said McCarthy.
Even Brian Clingenpeel, the community outreach coordinator for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue, says the fire was very different from what crew have seen before since it took place in such an urban area.
“To lose several businesses and several apartments and to have to tear down a building, this is rather unique, something we don’t see a lot of,” said Clingenpeel.
Clingenpeel says no people were injured, but three cats died and eight residents are displaced because of the fire.
Chewning says residents can help by donating clothing, non-perishable food, and toiletries to those affected by the fire. A donation box will be across from the Vinton War Memorial at the Charles Hill Community Center. To find out more about the donations, click here to be directed to the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook post.