WOLFEBORO, N.H. — A staple of downtown Wolfeboro, New Hampshire overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee has been turned to rubble.
Hunter's Shop 'n Save on Main Street is considered a total loss following a powerful fire Monday night into Tuesday morning, Wolfeboro Fire Chief Thomas Zotti said.
"Our duty crew signed on and could literally see it from the fire station," Zotti said.
Wolfeboro Fire Station is about three-quarters of a mile away from the downtown grocery store.
Zotti said the call first came in around 9 p.m. Monday, and crews from at least 16 different agencies worked to put out the blaze until around 4 a.m. Tuesday.
"It's safe to say this is probably the biggest loss that we've seen in my career," Zotti said, who's been with the fire department for more than 30 years.
Hunter's Shop 'n Save is considered a staple in the Wolfeboro community. Located in the heart of downtown, the family-owned grocery store attracted locals, as well as thousands of tourists off of Lake Winnipesaukee each year.
"Tragic," Linda Fontaine said. "You see your life crumble in front of your eyes."
Fontaine said she had worked at Hunter's for 41 years, and came to see the fire Monday evening. She also went back to see the damage on Tuesday.
"I just wouldn't want to work any other place," Fontaine added.
In addition to Fontaine, dozens of local residents and employees gathered in the parking lot Tuesday to witness the damage.
Zotti said nobody was injured in the fire.
"We feel fortunate that nobody was injured and no surrounding properties were damaged. But this is one of those iconic businesses that's been here in most people's minds forever. And probably 50 or 60 or so people are now out of work," Zotti added.
Hunter's owner, Daniel Craffey, said it was heartbreaking to see the damage this morning when he arrived. He added he plans to work to rebuild the store however possible and continue supporting impacted employees.
"Me and my management staff are going to work 24/7 to get this thing planned up and built," Craffey said.
Other businesses are lending a helping hand to those impacted by the fire. Poor People's Pub, a restaurant in nearby Wakefield, New Hampshire, is offering free meals for Hunter's employees for the rest of the month.
"We truly believe that we live in the best community in the country, and whenever there's a chance to lift up a community in need, we do that," Bo Keating, the owner of Poor People's Pub, said.
It's still unclear what started the fire. The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.