Norwich Business Owners Looking to Rebuild Following Fire

Business owners inside a Norwich building ravaged by an overnight fire Saturday are looking to rebuild.

Firefighters found heavy flames spewing from 598 W. Main Street when they responded to a structure fire around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Chief Keith Milton of the East Great Plain Volunteer Fire Company.

The building houses seven companies. It’ll be torn down Wednesday, according to the building’s owners.

Mutual aid was called in to assist, and helped tame the fire by 6 a.m., said Milton. No one was injured, but there is extensive damage to the building.

Icy conditions made it tricky for firefighters to get around while working this fire, Milton said.

This building is the lifeblood of the Allard family. Michael Allard bought in 2003 and owns Access to Health Chiropractic. Tricia Allard runs Ideal Weight Loss of Eastern Connecticut.

“You get there and your building is just gone. Both our businesses, our livelihoods... five other tenant's livelihoods,” Tricia Allard said.

She’s overwhelmed by the community’s generosity. It’s because of them that she and her husband are able to open in a temporary location at 57 Lafayette Street, Norwich – a couple of miles away – come Thursday.

“We had patients show up with food. They were here cleaning windows. We had friends come,” Allard said.

“Dr. Richardson, who's a dentist here in town and had this building vacant, opened the door to us. We've had chiropractic friends from all over the place offering us equipment to borrow until we can get up and running."

Allard calls her patients family. They feel the same way.

"Just fighting tears. It is very heartbreaking. Just the people that are affected by this right after the holidays -- it's a little tough to look at here,” said Diana Mello of Salem. She goes to Access to Health Chiropractic and had an appointment Thursday, less than two days before the fire.

But even in the worst of moments, Allard said there's a higher power looking out for her family. When they went back to scope out the damage, they were able to retrieve all of the patient travel charts, with their information, and business schedules.

Allard said 2017 is a chance to start over.

"2017 is going to be bigger and better than ever...We are rebuilding."

Lou Herman, owner of Taxpayers Assistance, said he has rented space at 598 W. Main St. since 1994 and calls his office a second home. He said the entire experience has been surreal, but he plans to re-open by Feb. 1, the start of tax season.

State Farm, Salon Studios, Hi Dental Care, and Sure-Bright Commercial Cleaning Services are also in the building.

The Norwich Fire Marshal’s Office is still investigating the cause.

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