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home : latest news : latest news May 27, 2016

4/30/2013 11:27:00 AM
Fire causes $450,000 in damage at Parks mercantile
Katherine Locke
Williams-Grand Canyon News

The Parks Feed & Mercantile is recovering from a fire that broke out Friday evening causing an estimated $450,000 worth of damage.

The store's owner, Bart Bartel, said the fire damaged the main building, where the convenience store and the local post office boxes are located.

"Those areas are totally closed because the fire damage to the convenience store was terrible, basically everything in the convenience store was destroyed," Bartel said.

The post office boxes are in a smoke damaged area and can't be used but Bartel said that they have been able to open a temporary post office with approval from the U.S. Postal Service.

"We reopened an interim post office in the back of our main building next to our barn," Bartel said. "The Postal Service is still dropping off local residents' mail every morning and it is being sorted and we are handing it out manually over the counter."

Residents are still able to drop off outgoing mail, too, and to make it easier for the community because of the inconvenience of the boxes being closed the mercantile will offer to hand out mail on Sunday.

The barn, which sells hay and feed, is open and the mercantile is still able to sell propane and ice. Bartel closed the Texaco gas pumps until further notice because even though the pumps weren't damaged, the electrical system that controls the pumps from inside the convenience store was destroyed.

Bartel said the store closed like normal on Friday night. At about 7:20 p.m. the alarm system went off and about ten minutes later the alarms were reading smoke or fire.

"The response from the local fire departments and the sheriff department out of Williams was fantastic," Bartel said.

Ponderosa Fire Department, Camp Navajo and Sherwood Forest departments all responded and Bartel said there were dozens of firefighters.

"They had everything out by maybe ten o'clock," Bartel said. "And we had the Postal Service inspector from Flagstaff out that evening and we removed the mail that was still in the post office, most of which was not damaged."

Local volunteers and employees helped to get the interim post office set up and running by Saturday afternoon.

Bartel said that he believes the fire was electrical in nature.

"In my opinion it's 99 percent obvious it was an electrical fire," Bartel said. "When you look at where the panel was in the back, the main heat was just about maybe several feet above the panel."

Despite the loss, Bartel is inspired by the help and support from local residents.

"Friday night, I was real depressed but just everyone coming together this weekend, reopening the post office and yesterday the local APS guy was able to re-power the back section, it is just a real nice community effort to get things going."

Bartel also said there are many things to be thankful for.

"Our biggest blessing was, no one was hurt or worse and that the fire didn't spread to the two propane tanks on the property," Bartel said. "Then the gasoline, we had just received a shipment the day before, my fear was that if all those fire people hadn't contained it, it could have potentially spread and been a much bigger problem."

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