UPDATE: Lee Robinson General
Store is back in business
By IRENE NOLAN
going to pick up and move on," Belinda Willis said resolutely this
morning, the day after a fire damaged the exterior of the business she
and her husband, Virgil, own in Hatteras village, Lee Robinson General
"Virgil and I are ready to open up," she said.
by the end of the day, the couple had the go-ahead from the county's
building inspector and fire marshal and the Cape Hatteras Electric
Cooperative and they announced that they were opening at noon on
Tuesday, Nov. 25.
The fire was called in about 4:07 p.m. Sunday
afternoon. The store is closed on Sundays, and the couple had
been working around the building, doing chores such as picking up and
raking. They had just gone back to their house, which is next door, for
coffee when they smelled smoke and realized the building was on fire.
"We were just really, really blessed," Belinda said today.
The fire was discovered early on, and she said that the firefighters "were just really, really awesome."
Hatteras Village Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call, along
with fire departments from Frisco and Buxton, Dare County Emergency
Medical Services, the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad, and the county
"It could have been really nasty," said fire chief Todd Ballance.
only was the fire discovered early, he said, but the southwesterly
gale-force winds that were forecast ahead of the passage of a warm
front didn't develop until early in the evening.
firefighters arrived in light rain and a breeze that was just beginning
to pick. The blaze was confined to the exterior of the west side of the
two-story, wood-frame building and was quickly brought under control.
"That was a really good thing," Ballance said. "If the wind had picked up earlier, it would have been a different story."
He said damage was confined to the exterior of the building and that the cause of the fire had not yet been determined.
County fire marshal Steve Kovacs inspected the fire scene this
afternoon, but could not reached to find out if he found any clues to
how the blaze started.
Belinda Willis said the exterior damage was minimal, and there was very little water or smoke damage in the building's interior.
county building inspector had already been to the store this morning
and declared it structurally sound, she said. They got the go-ahead
from the fire marshal and CHEC this afternoon.
Clean-up was underway, and Belinda said that the store would be ready to open by noon tomorrow.
"The visitors are here, and we're going to go for it," she said this evening.
"Our community is wonderful," she added. "We are so blessed to live on Hatteras Island."
Last night, Belinda said, friend and neighbor Leslie Hickman brought the Willis family a pot of stewed chicken.
"It was the best stewed chicken I ever ate," she said.