In the buildings connected to the one that caught fire late Wednesday morning in downtown Seymour, 13 people and three dogs were able to escape without injury.
To the left at La Mexicana, 112 W. Second St., three people were downstairs in the mini market, and two people and one dog were in the apartment upstairs.
To the right at Isabel’s Estetica, 108 W. Second St., four people were working in the business downstairs, and four people and two dogs were in the residential area upstairs.
Gabriela Pulido’s parents own La Mexicana and live upstairs in that building, and she works at Isabel’s Estetica.
Around 11:30 a.m., someone came into the shop and told Pulido and others to get out.
It wasn’t until she stepped outside that she saw a lot of smoke billowing from the building housing Hair Force Academy and Second Street Styles at 110 W. Second St., owned by Alan and Dana Killey.
Pulido’s friend, who runs Isabel’s Estetica, called those living above her shop and told them to evacuate. Pulido contacted her parents, who were working in the mini market, and her son, who was upstairs.
“I couldn’t move my car or anything from the area because they had all of the water hoses out,” Pulido said.
The top of the front part of the Isabel’s Estetica building wound up collapsing around noon, with bricks falling onto the sidewalk and a couple of cars parked in the area.
To the right of that building, Larry McDonald, owner of This Old Guitar Music Store, 106 W. Second St., received a lot of help carrying musical instruments and framed items on his walls out of the building.
Those items were taken to an empty building across the street that used to house Bevers Family Pharmacy.
“I had 50 people helping me move all of the stuff,” McDonald said. “The police department was helping me, and the people that have downtown businesses and relatives were helping me.”
While he was able to remove most of his instruments and equipment, nearly 50 pictures were still on the walls.
At the time, McDonald was the only person in the building, which is owned by Bill Bevers.
McDonald said he had just returned from running errands and was coming around the block to park his vehicle when he saw a bunch of people standing in front of the neighboring buildings. He also saw a lot of smoke.
“I went in and finished my lunch, and then (firefighters) said, ‘If (the fire) gets close, we’ll have to have you get out of here,’” McDonald said. “It kept getting closer and closer.”
While moving items from his store, McDonald said he saw the top part of the building next to his collapse.
“As the smoke got worse and worse and worse and the fire began to spread, that’s when the front of the building began to fall,” he said. “It was just devastating to watch that. It probably was not a blessing to the owners but a blessing to the fire department because they could see what they were fighting now.”
No one lives in the top part of Bevers’ building. McDonald said it was used for offices years ago but now is used for overflow storage.
“The sadness is those folks had their business downtown, and they lived upstairs, so besides losing their business, they’ve lost their home,” he said.