Oldest store in Norton, N.B., deemed a total loss after fire
A fire has destroyed the oldest business in a small New Brunswick village, located approximately an hour southwest of Moncton.
Hall Bros. Enterprises Ltd, a tractor dealer at the intersection of Route 121 and Route 124, was set to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year until crews responded to reports of a fire at 4:42 a.m., on Thursday.
Bill Palmer, chief of the Norton Fire Department, said four other departments responded. The building has been described as a total loss as the result of the fire.
No injuries were reported and no one was inside at the time of the fire. However, the fire did force the Anglophone South School District to close the nearby Norton Elementary School due to “public safety concerns.”
All that could be retrieved from the building were some tractors, snowblowers and other equipment.
“We’ve been here for a long time … I’m third generation, so it would have been my grandfather, my dad and uncle, my brother and I,” says Russell Hall, who owns the business. “And we have two of our children here, so they’re fourth generation.”
Hall was in disbelief when he first saw the building up in smoke.
“Is this possible?” Hall said. “What is this? This is really happening.”
Hall says the company is insured and about 15 people work for Hall Bros. Enterprises Ltd. He hopes to temporarily work of their other building across the street.
“We had calls this morning from other neighbouring dealers saying, ‘Anything you need, let me know,'” he says. “We’ve had lots of other customers have either called, text, or they’ve dropped in.”
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Local resident Rhonda Smith grew up with members of the Hall family and calls the business an “anchor” in the village.
“It’s a big upset and it’s pretty traumatic to lose a big business like this, so it’s pretty upsetting,” Smith said. “The whole community is probably pretty worked up.”
Chief Palmer hopes the business can push through the incident and continue their operations out of a nearby building.
“I don’t want to speak for the owners but I think you’ll see them start out of there for a short time,” he said.
The Fire Marshal’s Office has been called and is set to investigate the cause of the fire.
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