When Alan and Dana Killey left their home and business in downtown Seymour on Wednesday morning to allow firefighters to put out a dryer fire, they didn’t take any of their belongings.

“We thought we were going to be able to get back in,” Dana Killey said.

On Thursday, she and her husband were able to briefly go into the first floor of their burned-out two-story structure.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

The only items they were able to retrieve were a leather purse, some money from a cash register and an application from a student who had just enrolled in Hair Force Beauty Academy. The Killeys also operated Second Street Styles from the academy on the first floor the building at 110 W. Second St.

The business and the upstairs residence the Killeys shared with their two children, Zack and Allison, along with a building at 108 W. Second St. that contained two businesses and an upstairs residence for four other people were destroyed by the fire, reported at 11:14 a.m.

Seymour Fire Chief Brad Lucas allowed the Killeys and family members of Maria Isabel Ponce a chance to go into the first floor of the buildings but not the residences on the second floors.

Ponce’s son, Luis Rizo, and her daughter’s boyfriend, Luis Vargas, were able to carry out four plastic bags of items.

“That’s all,” Ponce said.

The fire left both the Killeys and Ponce, who lived with her husband, son and an aunt, homeless.

Alan Killey said he stills owns some rental property and hopes to move into one of those so he can begin putting together the pieces of his family’s life and business back together.

Ponce and her family, on the other hand, do not have a plan and are looking for answers.

“I don’t know yet. I want to reopen,” she said. “I need to work.”

Ponce first opened her hair salon for women and men, Isabel’s Estetica, about 10 years ago on the other side of Second Street. She later moved to her present location and also operated a second business, {span lang=”es” xml:lang=”es”}Novedades{/span} Maria, there.

This is not the first time Ponce or her family has been homeless in the past decade, as she lost her Columbus home to the June 8, 2008, flood.

In another bit of irony, Ponce became a stylist after graduating from Hair Force Beauty Academy.

“I teach some there, too,” she said.

Killey said he presently has about 17 students, and he plans to contact all of them to let them know he will be reopening.

“It may take a few weeks,” he said.

A couple of students are nearing graduation and will be allowed to do so, he said.

Killey said he has made the state aware of the situation, but he’s going to have to have about 3,000 square feet of space and 20 of everything students need before reopening.

On Thursday, Duke Energy crews were on hand to restore power to everyone on the block except the two buildings that were destroyed.

That included La Mexicana at 112 W. Second St., which is adjacent to the Killeys, and This Old Guitar Music Store at 106 W. Second St., adjacent to Ponce’s businesses.

Jesus Zuniga, who owns the grocery store and operates food trucks that serve area factories, was able to maintain his business by using a kitchen at the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge at 122 E. Second St.

He said it’s great to live in America where communities really pull together to help each other out in times of need.

“This just makes us more strong,” Zuniga said.

His business suffered mostly smoke damage but will have to be cleaned up before the health department can reinspect it so he can reopen there. His family also lives above the grocery store and will be able to move back in as soon as it’s cleaned up.

Neither La Mexicana nor This Old Guitar Music Store had any damage except from the smoke.

Larry McDonald, owner of the music store, said he plans to reopen Monday.

City workers spent Thursday morning removing bricks and blocks that fell when the top portion of the Isabel’s Estetica building collapsed onto the street and sidewalk. Second Street was reopened later in the day.

Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman also came downtown and talked with Killey, Ponce and others to see how the city could help them get back on their feet for the short term and perhaps the long term, too.

That extended to Luedeman contacting a local automobile dealership to see if they could help Ponce obtain a key for her car after her original one was lost in the fire. The dealership agreed to help out.

Luedeman said there is a possibility the city redevelopment commission might be able to help with rebuilding the two buildings.

“That would be my goal,” he said.

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.