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Business destroyed in clean-up efforts after Moulton fire

WAAY 31 spoke with a Moulton business owner whose own worst nightmare came true after watching a fire destroy his neighbors’ livelihoods.

Posted: Apr 26, 2019 6:40 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2019 7:13 PM

It’s been a waiting game for the owner of The Willow Tree this week, after Court Street Grill in Moulton caught fire on Monday night.

That fire spread and destroyed two other businesses, along with the popular restaurant.

The Willow Tree is right next door to Court Street Grill, but it only suffered smoke damage from Monday night's fire.

It wasn't until demolition crews came in on Thursday, in an effort to clean up, that The Willow Tree became another business on the list of those destroyed.

WAAY 31 spoke with the owner who spent the day on Friday cleaning out his store after a wall fell on the roof, collapsing onto thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

“My nerves, obviously, just going crazy every minute," Craig Johnston said.

Since Monday night, the owner of The Willow Tree, Craig Johnston, had been a nervous wreck. He had been watching the businesses around him disappear, after a fire broke out right next door.

Johnston’s business had smoke damage, but the risk for more damage didn’t go away, as crews continued to battle the fire for about two days, and then demolished what was left on Thursday.

During that demolition, a wall from the adjoining business fell on the roof of Johnston’s store, causing his worst nightmare to become reality.

“I exclaimed, ‘Oh god, it happened!’ My first reaction was to just sit here and cry," Johnston said. "Not just the impact to this business that I’ve worked very hard to build, but, most importantly, my vendors who lost merchandise.”

And while Johnston did shed a few tears, he immediately started working to save as much of his business as he could.

“I could not wait another moment," he said. "I went around some of the machinery and actually opened the door and went into the store.”

It’s been a long week for Johnston, with Thursday night and Friday being the longest, as he and others forfeited sleep to clean out his store.

“We had, I think, three or four trailers show up and multiple SUVs," he said. "At one point, I would dare to say there were about sixty people in here, carting merchandise and packing merchandise.”

Johnston is afraid his store will now have to be demolished.

“This is pretty much exactly what happened to Deja Vu," he said.

But Johnston said the support he’s received from the community makes him want to rebuild.

“They are encouraging me to do what we would want to do and that is to open the business back up," he said. "So, we’re going to shoot for that, and who knows how long that will take, but we’re definitely going to shoot for that.”

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