New Brunswick

Sussex will rebound from fire, mayor says

The mayor of Sussex says his town will rebound from the fire that destroyed two historic buildings in the downtown Tuesday night.

Plans to rebuild on Broad Street are already starting

Two buildings were reduced to rubble by the fire on Tuesday night. (CBC)

The mayor of Sussex says his town will rebound from the fire that destroyed two historic buildings in the downtown on Tuesday night.

Marc Thorne says that area of Broad Street is an integral part of the community and will not become an eyesore.

"People are already starting to make plans on what it is we can do to restore this street," he said.

"We won't stand by and let this become an empty space of little or no value. We'll work to create something beautiful here."

Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne says residents are already discussing how to restore the street he describes as an integral part of the community. (CBC)

The two buildings destroyed by the fire were among the first to be built across the street from the train station, around which Sussex developed, said Thorne.

They are an irreplaceable part of the town's history, he said.

"For us it really helped define who we were. A lot of people when they came to our community and into the downtown, this is the sight that greeted them. This is the site that people remember years after they visited us."

Fire ripped through the town centre on Tuesday, starting at about 10 p.m.

The fire's cause is still under investigation.

Loss still sinking in

No one was injured, but several tenants were left temporarily homeless and several businesses were destroyed, including the Golden Town Buffet, Outdoor Elements ski and cycle shop, Soap Works, Namaste books and gifts, and the Broadway Café.

"It's, of course, still sinking in," said Peter Williams, the former owner of the popular café, which he opened in 1981 with his wife Judith.

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The couple sold the business in 2005 and moved to Halifax, but still owned the building that was reduced to rubble by the blaze.

"It's very sad to see it go," said Williams, who drove up from Halifax to see the damage.

"There was a lot of work and a lot of memories and I know it's very, very sad for the community as a whole because it was an important place for many, many people in the community."

Williams said much of the success of the café was due to the "sense of place" the historic building provided.

"I have every hope that it will be rebuilt in some form down the road," he said.

"It had 12-foot ceilings on main floor and 10-foot ceilings upstairs. It had a beautiful roof line and a beautiful brick facade, so if and when it gets rebuilt I would think that it would be rebuilt with at least a nod to the past in its facade."

It's unclear what the current owner of the café plans to do about the business, said Williams.