Amherst business owners speak out after roof fire

Amherst fire officials; Roof caught fire while roofing company was working

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

AMHERST, Va. - Hanging insulation, water and smoke damage is what's left at Step by Step Early Learning Center in Madison Heights.

"I'm still trying to process it all. I'm just glad we were able to get everybody out safe," Lois Brown, Step-by-Step co-owner, said.

Brown had about 26 children under her care behind the building when she was told they had to get out.
 
"Our older kids were down for naps. We had to wake them up to let them know there was a fire, we needed to get outside," Brown said.

Over at Alan Garret's tanning business of 16 years, which is in the same building as Step by Step, there are burned and charred taninng beds. He was too distraught to speak with 10 News on camera but allowed our cameras inside to get video.
 
Amherst County officials said Wednesday afternoon that roofing company was working on the roof when the fire sparked.
 
Cellphone video sent in by a viewer showed thick black smoke spewing into the sky.

On Thursday, fire officials were back on the scene looking at the roof again.

"We're just looking at a burned roof. That's what we're looking at trying to figure out the origin of the cause," Sam Bryant, public safety director, said.

Both business owners are still trying to figure out damage costs and how to move on. But one thing everyone is glad about, is that everybody made it out safely.
 
"The babies were safe, the evacuation went smooth. That's the main thing. Everything else I feel like can be replaced," Brown said.

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