BEDFORD, Va. – What was supposed to be a normal day for Helen Walters turned into a day full of emotion and heartbreak.
Walters is the owner of Sister to Sister Custom Catering and Café. Her business, along with Peace of Mind Civil Engineering, caught fire on Friday morning.
“Overwhelming feeling that a tragedy that happened something that you did, that you love, that you built from the ground up ... that’s the way it felt. Like somebody had died,” Walters said.
The store is not open on Friday so no one was inside the building when the fire started. Walters’ neighbors told her that her building was on fire and got to the scene shortly after firefighters arrived.
“I’m just shocked. I really don’t have words to describe it. I’m just shocked. I can’t really believe … I’m just shocked,” Walters said.
The Bedford Fire Department responded to three fire calls throughout Friday. The one downtown was their second. One crew was returning to the station from the first fire when they saw a blaze and smoke coming from the building.
Bedford Fire Chief, Todd Stone, said the first crew was able to end up cutting a hole through the roof of the building to let the smoke out.
Bailey Burns worked nearby and saw the smoke fill the streets of downtown Bedford.
“It was a lot of smoke at one point. The whole parking lot was covered and I couldn’t see anything and then like you could just see it come in from the window, from the alleyway. It was really bad as well,” Burns said.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire within 45 minutes. Since many buildings in the downtown area are connected by the same roof, firefighters say they’re lucky the damage was only done to one building.
“They actually saved our downtown district. These buildings are attached and this fire can go and go but they were able to aggressively get in front of the fire and cut it off,” Chief Stone said.
Departments throughout the county and nearby neighborhoods all responded to the scene to help out.
Stone said it couldn’t have gone better than it did.
“Usually, we can always at every fire find one or two things that we can get better on. Today went as good as it can get and I don’t think it could have gotten any better. I’m just proud of the entire town of Bedford,” Stone said.
Bedford will still be hurt in the coming days and weeks after seeing one of their local businesses get destroyed. However, throughout Friday they all came together to lend their hand, especially to Walters.
“That meant a lot. So those little things in life that mean a lot, are the people that really care for you,” Walters said.