TAPPAHANNOCK, Va. -- Cleanup and recovery efforts are underway in the town of Tappahannock after a fire burned down almost an entire block on Friday.
The owners said they were thankful for everyone who helped fight the fire and for the outpouring of support.
"We appreciate everyone's continued thoughts and prayers for our family and our business! We pray for all others affected by this fire, other businesses, and those who lost their homes!" the post reads.
The fire eventually spread to the nearby businesses on the block, including Prince Street Cafe, a realty office, an art gallery, and apartments.
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around what's happening," said Jennifer Bacon, who worked in the realty office, Tiffany Properties. "We lost everything. Everything but our office cat."
"We've got right around six businesses significantly impacted by the and then a little bit of collateral damage from there," Tommy Hicks, the interim chief of emergency services in Essex County, said.
Robin Lamb's hair salon, The Rivah Hair Salon, was next door to the realty office and, while still standing, suffered water and smoke damage.
With the help of several other fire departments, including as far away as Hanover County, the blaze was considered under control around 2 p.m.
"During night, the only thing that we had a little bit of challenge with was rekindling on part of the incident," Hicks said.
No deaths were reported and the only injuries were to several fire fighters who suffered heat exhaustion. One couple in the apartments reported that their cat, Bubbles, died in the fire.
Efforts to help those rebuild and recover are being lead by the Tappahannock Main Street Association, which has started a GoFundMe to help those impacted with their immediate needs. It had raised nearly $25,000 by late Sunday. separate GoFundMe has been started for the couple whose cat died.
The association said it was also working to find new spots for the businesses to reopen in.
Lamb said she had already contacted her customers and would see them in her home.
The association's Executive Director thanked all those involved in a Facebook post.
"I’m confident that this unfortunate situation will not set us back in our revitalization efforts, but propel us forward with this widespread support," Beth Bartholomew Sharpe wrote. "We’ll continue to strive to grow and support the needs of our citizens and also encourage the visitation of our visitors."
"Certainly, this is a setback in that. but, you always have to look for the silver lining with this space now, you have to imagine what it could be now," said association president John Harvey. "We like to call it 'Tappahannock Strong'. When there is an opportunity like this, everyone in the community comes out. It's a very tight-knit community."
A fundraiser is planned at the Wind Vineyard in Tappahannock next Saturday, July 23 from 1 to 7 p.m.
The buildings that burned are within the Tappahannock Historic District and the Essex County Fire Chief noted they were able to protect the second-oldest building in the district, the Ritchie House built in 1706, which on the southwest corner of the block that was burned.
This is the third major fire in the district since the town was founded.
A second fire destroyed almost all of the same block of Prince Street in June 23, 1917.
A June 25, 1917 article written by the Richmond Virginian (the article is on pages one and two) said the fire began in the rear of J.L. Henly's drug store and as the town had no fire engine the "work of extinguishing the blaze was done by the bucket brigade, in which women, young and old, rendered heroic service, shoulder to shoulder with the men and boys of the village".
Along with the drug store, the article said the fire also destroyed a post office and at least five other businesses.
Other articles on the fire, including how "two supposed German spies" (although one articles stated one of the men was Swedish) were arrested and investigated in the matter, can be found here, here, and here.
Wesley Pippenger, a research historian for Essex County, provided CBS 6 with two photos taken the day after the 1917 fire and descriptions on where they were taken.
Pippenger said the above photo was taken from the Ritchie House, looking toward the river. The old Bagby Hotel is in the back right of the photograph and still stands at the southwest corner of Water Ln. & Prince St., now home to the Tappahannock Art Gallery. The photo was published in Pippenger's book "Tappahannock and Essex County, Virginia in Early Photographs."
Pippenger said the second photo, which he has not published before, is a view from about where the Essex County Museum and Historical Society sits on Water Ln. and looks away from the river, down Prince St. He said in the photo you can see the back of Ritchie House.
Seventy-year-old William Durham, who was born and raised in Tappahannock, likened what he saw Friday to “a battle scene.”
But Durham is confident his community will rally and rebuild.
“The town's not gone. But the historical perspective is gone. But it's here,” Durham said, pointing to his head. “It’s all in what you remember.”
That sentiment was echoed by Bacon.
"Tappahannock is such a strong community. I know that everything will get rebuilt. It's just going to take all of us together to make it what it was. I know it's going to be better -- it's just, we have to roll up our sleeves and it's going to be OK," said Bacon.
Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email firstname.lastname@example.org to send a tip.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story included a quote from a Northern Neck News articlethat referenced a fire in Irvington in 1917 — and not Tappahannock. Both towns suffered "disastrous fires" in June of 1917. We regret the oversight.