'It will be missed': Evart mourns loss of Corner Store
No injuries reported, cause of fire still unknown
EVART -- Evart residents are mourning the loss of a community staple after the Corner Store, located at the intersection of Sixth and Main streets, burned down Wednesday afternoon.
"It will be missed," said longtime Evart resident Cindy Vanderhoef. "It was a landmark in the community. It used to be a real hub."
Evart Fire Chief Shane Helmer said firefighters were dispatched to the fire at the store shortly before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Helmer said there was one employee inside when the blaze started and began to spread through the building, but she was able to safely exit the building.
"There were no injures," he said.
Despite a quick response from several agencies, Helmer said firefighters fought the flames for several hours.
"We got the fire under control about a quarter to 4 p.m.," he said, adding the historic building was a total loss.
Osceola County Sheriff Ed Williams said while local agencies tried to contain the flames, much of the downtown area was closed down in an effort to keep people out of harm's way.
"A lot of the streets were shut down at first to do the evacuation of the buildings nearby where the fire could potentially spread," he said.
After the fire was contained, Helmer said personnel remained on scene for several hours for cleanup.
Williams said the loss of the Corner Store will be felt by many people in Evart and the surrounding area as it has been a feature of their everyday lives for generations.
"We are creatures of habit and there have been decades of families that have been going to that store," he said. "Now, people are going to start to go there and realize they can't anymore."
As an Evart native, Helmer is among the many local residents impacted by the burning of the well-known building.
"I've been in Evart my whole life and the Corner Store has been there since I was a kid," Helmer said. "To lose a building like that hurts the downtown area."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The Evart Area Fire Department received mutual aid from fire departments in Hersey, Reed City, Lincoln Township, LeRoy, Tustin, Marion, the city of Big Rapids, Chippewa Lake, Colfax Township, Garfield Township, Surrey Township, the city of Clare and Cherry Grove Township in Wexford County.
Also assisting were the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, Osceola County EMS, Evart Police Department, Michigan State Police, Meceola Central Dispatch and Osceola County Emergency Management.