A fire in downtown Winona left several businesses devastated -- some more than others.
The fire mainly damaged the businesses on the corner of Third and Center streets.
Paul Brosnahan woke up to a phone call at 3:30 a.m. Friday from a friend telling him things weren't looking good downtown, and what we saw when he arrived was unbelievable.
“I saw that the middle of this block was engulfed in flames,” said Brosnahan.
The fire hadn't spread to his law firm yet, but the police told him since the buildings were connected, it was only a matter of time.
“It took about an hour and a half,” said Brosnahan.
His building was formerly a bank and more than 130 years old, making it especially challenging for crews to fight the fire.
Amy Jo Marks owns the coffee shop and boutique on the corner of Third and Center streets.
“We jumped in the car to come down and see it, and it was unbelievable how much fire there was,” Marks said.
She watched for hours as firefighters tried to get the flames out.
“It just doesn't seem like they can get the fire to stop,” said Marks.
For those hours, she was unsure just how much she had lost.
“We all just got in our fall inventory clothing and stuff, and it's all gone,” said Marks. “I haven’t been able to get even close to it, so it’s hard to tell.”
Nearly 12 hours after the fire started, Brosnahan finally got a look into the building he's called his law firm for more than 20 years.
“I just looked inside the glass, and can see that it's gutted, and there's no ceiling and we can look straight up into the sky,” said Brosnahan.
Marks got the OK to quickly go inside the coffee shop and boutique.
“What did we grab, orders that I need to complete, catering jobs, just information,” said Marks.
She says everything was soaked in water and covered in soot.
After hours of watching the flames badly damage or even destroy their businesses, Marks said the thought of starting over is hard.
“It's just the thought of doing this again,” said Marks. “It's exhausting to think about.”
These businesses have spent years catering and servicing the community, but now the community is returning a favor.
“No fewer than 10 businesses, banks and other lawyers have offered us temporary housing,” said Brosnahan.
“My phone is dead because it's like so many phone calls, text messages and Facebook messages and businesses have been supportive,” said Marks.
While the damage seems devastating, there are some things Brosnahan is grateful for.