Damage to business hub in Waitsfield impacts community

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WAITSFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) Three stores in a popular Waitsfield shopping plaza are closed after a fire ripped through the building last Sunday. The impact is now being felt throughout the community.

"Smoke's a tough thing. It really get into all sorts of electronics, products, we're looking at a very large loss at this point," said Bruce Hyde of Mehuron's Supermaket.

Three businesses are trying to rebuild, after dealing with heavy smoke damage, when a fire tore through the shopping center.

Infinite Sports, where the fire started, is considered a total loss. Investigators say the blaze started on a wooden countertop where several electronic devices were plugged in, including a cash register, computer with monitor, power strips, and some lithium battery charging ports.

Officials say the cause of the fire is undetermined but is directly related to some sort of electrical malfunction at the wooden countertop.

Infinite Sports lost its entire inventory. Although the fire was contained to the one businesses, smoke damaged locally owned Mehuron's Supermarket next door.

"We're a family business. We've been here for generations. We're really doing the best we can to get up and running as quickly as possible. We're really here to serve the community," Hyde said.

Mehuron's is also a hub for other restaurants nearby. "Mehuron's is honestly like our pantry. It's our storeroom. I'm a very small place. We have a very creative expansive menu and so I rely on them not just to be able to pick up stuff on a whim or on a daily basis but also it's a source of inspiration. I can go in that store and find unique products that no one else has," said Charlie Menard, the owner of the Canteen Creemee Company, just a few doors down.

Menard says Mehuron's draws large crowds to the plaza and that with it closed he worries business will slow down in the plaza. He says he'll do what he can to help his neighbors get back on their feet.

"These are friends and people that you see everyday and you talk to and to see them going through this -- it's a little difficult. Being the last store standing, I definitely have a little bit of guilt on that and I'm really hoping that everybody rebuilds and recuperates really quickly," Menard says.