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Pulaski businesses reeling after large fire destroys buildings

Posted at 1:48 AM, Sep 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-15 03:10:06-04
  • Firefighters battled a large fire near the corner of West Pulaski Street and North St. Augustine Street on Thursday afternoon and into the evening
  • Pulaski Tri-County Fire Chief James Styczynski said at the scene that the cause of the fire is still under investigation
  • Styczynski said the firefighters sought to contain the blaze from reaching neighboring buildings
  • Dawn Tooleysinnaeve, owner of A Cut Above Salon, and Renee Slezewski, from Lacount Auctions, say their businesses are lost

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

A large fire broke out around 3 p.m. in Pulaski. People who own businesses in the building that caught fire think they know what the cause was.

"The tree had fallen and took a [power] line down on the building," Dawn Tooleysinnaeve said.

Fire officials at the scene would not confirm whether the tree and power line were the cause, but say it's very possible.

Dawn Tooleysinnaeve describes the moment Thursday afternoon that she was sitting at the reception desk of her salon and the building burst into flames.

"My renter, she ran to the back door and it was bright orange, engulfed in flames already, within five minutes," Tooleysinnaeve said.

Tooleysinnaeve says despite the efforts of the firefighters, her business could not be recovered.

"Even though it's a total loss, they have been working since 4:00 trying to get this fire out," Tooleysinnaeve said.

Tooleysinnaeve and Renee Slezewski, who operated Lacount Auctions in the building, say they are stunned by the loss of their businesses.

"Just kind of in shock," Tooleysinnaeve said.

"Not something that you would think is going to happen," Slezewski said. "Not something that you plan for. And it's devastating."

The business owners aren't sure yet how they will move forward from the fire.

"It will be back," Tooleysinnaeve said. "I do know that for sure."

"My mind is rotating to all the things that we've lost," Slezewski said. "Things we use every day — handcarts, lighting, tables, and everything, that kind of stuff."

Tooleysinnaeve and Slezewski say there were also apartments and at least one house that burned down in the fire. The Pulaski community turned out in droves to fight the business owners and the firefighters.

"This community is a small community, but everybody rallies together," Tooleysinnaeve said.

Business owners say the building is a total loss, but fire officials say they are looking to protect the businesses on either side of this building.