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Investigators have not determined what started a fire that destroyed Ebbert Hardware in Sandy Lake Wednesday, but they have ruled out arson.
The hardware store on South Main Street was the only one in the area and had been in business for decades.
“That’s been here since I was a kid, and me and my dad used to go down and get tools and everything else we needed and now it’s gone. (I) don’t really know how to react,” said Sandy Lake resident Andrew Jewel.
But members of the community are reacting by helping out their neighbors like Debbie Millero whose Aloradonna Gift shop suffered extensive damage from the fire.
“People were texting me, calling me all last night offering help,” said Millero. “Other florists have been offering their cases for me to leave flowers in and supplies, just wonderful.”
And many in town stopped by to give their thanks to the volunteer firefighters for helping to keep the blaze from spreading.
“They are all trained, and these are all people that do this on their own, ” said Assistant Chief Daniel Patton. “They are not getting paid for this, but they have the sense that this is something that needs to be done.”
And while the loss of the Ebbert’s is going to hurt Sandy Lake, resident Bill Rice said it hurts any community when it loses a prosperous business.
“To go to a hardware store and pick up anything like that, you got to travel to Grove City or Franklin or Greenville, which is about 17 miles either way you go,” said Rice.
Owner Janet Ebbert said she would like to rebuild but has not made a final decision.