'Devastating': Historic N.S. general store damaged in fire
‘It is the heart and soul of the community,’ says co-owner Peter MacNeil
The beloved General Store in Petite Rivière, N.S., is closed after a fire broke out early Monday morning.
The store's co-owner, Peter MacNeil, said neighbours heard a loud bang around 1 a.m. AT and rushed to see what happened.
"It looks like it was the generator that we had going, and it looks like it blew up," he said. "There could have been something faulty in the generator, it was only a three-year-old generator."
When the local fire department arrived, the fire had already made its way inside the century-old structure.
MacNeil said they set up the generator against the outside wall of the store on Saturday afternoon after the village lost power as Hurricane Dorian made its way across Nova Scotia.
"Trying to keep the store open, we have frozen meats and milk and stuff inside, so the generator [was] trying to keep those things for the local community," he said.
No official cause has been determined for the fire and the investigation is ongoing.
For many in Petite-Rivière and the South Shore, the General Store was the go-to for everything from food to gas to liquor.
"We don't have any other nearby shops where we can just run and get our necessities," said Ria Hodgson, who lives nearby.
Audrey Doane's uncle once owned the store.
"It's so devastating," she said. "It just doesn't seem real."
Doane said it's not only a huge loss for the community, but a loss for the community's history.
"Inside the store, walls are laden with all the original pictures of the store," she said. "A lot of artifacts were inside that store."
MacNeil said it's not just a store that sells products, but a gathering hub in the community. He said the front porch was always full of people drinking coffee, chatting and enjoying themselves.
"It is the heart and soul of the community," said MacNeil.
He said he hasn't spoke with the other co-owners — his wife and another couple — about what to do next.
"As far as I'm concerned, I think they would feel the same way, that we will rebuild," he said.
That feeling is echoed in members of the community.
"I'm sure with its support... that we will see it rebuilt it and it will rise again," said Doane. "And everybody will be happy again."
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