WINONA, Minnesota (WXOW)-- Investigators are still working to determine the cause of a fire early morning Friday, that devastated a downtown block in Winona. Meanwhile, businesses and residents were able to go inside their shops and apartments to survey damage and begin the clean up process.
"It's ugly," said Torry Moore, owner of Sole Sport, a business destroyed by the fire. "Everything, a lot of water damage, a lot of smoke damage. A lot of clothing is on the floor covered in soot and ash and mud."
Moore moved in to this shop on Center Street just 10 months ago and after Friday morning's fire, he has to find a new location for his sporting good store. The only things he could salvage were the cash drawer and a computer
"We literally just got all of our new fall clothing in," Moore said. "So all of the new jackets, all of the new clothing, and you go in there and see it and it's all mushy and covered in stuff, it's just a waste."
And it's not just businesses that are displaced, but also dozens of residents who lived in apartments above the damaged buildings.
"I didn't realize how serious it was until I got outside and saw the flames and the smoke," said Winona State Senior Hayley Grams. She was home in her Off Center apartment when the fire broke out. Grams finally got back in to her apartment Sunday. She lost all her furniture in the fire but managed to save some of her clothing.
"We had to wash everything three times, just to get the smoke out and I still had to throw a lot away," Grams said.
But both Torry and Hayley say they feel fortunate, considering how much worse the situation could have been.
"I work with a girl that lives I the building that was destroyed and she lost everything," Grams said. "I'm thankful I got most of my stuff and my mom could come and stay with me and help me clean everything out."
"The support from the community has been pretty incredible and so it's a fun business to be in and we'll try to get it back up and going as soon as possible," Moore said.
Torry says as soon as insurance matters are handled he'll begin looking for a new location for Sole Sport. Meanwhile Hayley already found a new place to live.