Hope From Farmington Fire

A day after a fire tore through their business, the owners of Crossroads Bar are picking up the pieces in downtown Farmington.

It’s mostly things like an old Harley Davidson sign and empty beer bottles.

“I’m in disbelief, heartache,” says Manager Brooke Lahart. “It had been a family business for eight years and just been a lot of hard work.”

Lahart was with her father, Donnie Mckavitt, who owned the business. To them and their customers, Crossroads Bar was more than just a place to grab drinks. As the regulars described, Blues music regularly piped through its speakers, a rarity in the area. While motorcyclists frequented the bar, it attracted a variety free souls. Recently, it served as a rallying point for Cubs fans during their playoff run.

“I’m in shock,” says Jennifer Ludolph, owner of Jen’s Place Bar and Grill across the road. She says many of the business owners in the quaint town of Farmington are very close.

“I’m very sad for him,” she says. “Because (McKavitt) is a good business owner and a good guy. I wish him nothing but the best and lots of prayers.”

The fire that tore down Crossroads Bar and four other neighboring businesses erupted around 2am Sunday morning. Officials say it took nearly 40 departments and six hours to get it in check. So much water was pumped into the flames, homes and businesses lost their source for most of the day.

Around 5:30am, Patrick O’Brien arrived at Park Side Delly and Diner just up the road. He saw the flames and the countless firemen. He knew he had to do something.

So instead of serving his customers, he and his staff fed local firemen 400 biscuits slathered in six gallons of gravy as they fought the flames at Crossroads Bar throughout the morning.

“It’s a type of fraternity almost,” says O’Brien, the diner’s owner, referring to the bond between store owners. “We know what those people must be feeling to put their blood sweat and tears and see it reduced to rubble.”

Many shops turned off their lights on Sunday out of respect for the five stores. Those that talked to us say they will all lend a hand in the recovery process.

Along with Crossroads Bar, Lillie and Associates, Diva Florist, an insurance company and a fitness center were all damaged or destroyed.

City Administrator Rollen Wright says the shops that were destroyed recently underwent renovations.

“The gentlemen that owned the insurance company just finished a $7,000 facade program to dress up his business,” says Wright.

The City has been supporting the local businesses with TIF money and with at least three of the demolished stores recently using the money for renovations. Wright says they are temporarily providing room in the city administrative building for the affected stores

But out of the ashes comes a reason to be hopeful. Mckavitt’s motorcycle was in the bar during the time of the fire. After they stymied the flames, firefighters were able to pull it out from the rubble.

As onlookers cheered, Mckavitt revved up the engine and drove it home.

 

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