Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
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Breaking News – Amherst, NH Plaza Fire

Filed under: Daily Life — folkcat at 10:13 pm on Thursday, June 12, 2008

I was coming home from Panera tonight about 8:20, when traffic was backed up fairly severely. A friend of one of my co-knitters had mentioned a large fire in this direction (west along 101A), and she wasn’t kidding.

I was able to see the column of smoke from some distance down the road as we crawled slowly in our cars.

Amherst Plaza Fire, smoke column

I thought I could guess about where it was located. Sadly, I was right. It was Amherst Plaza, home to several long-standing businesses in the area. Most notably, Covered Bridge Yarns, a craft store with a history going back a couple decades at least, and Amherst House of Pizza.

This is what’s left of the House of Pizza.

Amherst House of Pizza - Ruins

I pulled over into the parking lot across the street – as many others had – to stare in horror at the devastation. This was an l-shaped plaza, with Amherst House of Pizza anchoring the front corner along Route 101A. I saw blackened windows at least halfway down the length of the plaza. One of the ladder trucks was pumping water on the building all the way in the back corner.

The front end of the building, completely gone. Not sure what else was along the front face besides the pizza shop. But I think there was a beloved children’s clothing consignment shop down the burned length, and I know that Covered Bridge Yarns was there, too.

A police officer directing traffic chatted a little with us onlookers. As far as he knew, no one was hurt in the fire.

Not physically, anyway. The family that owned the Amherst House of Pizza, that shop was their entire life. They’ve been there for years. Gryphon and I used to go there sometimes, and he’d been going for many years before I even married him and moved to New Hampshire – and that was 15 years ago. Their kids grew up crawling on the floor there, and when they were old enough, they stood on step stools and boxes and operated the cash register. This place was their life.

I’m sure the owners of the other shops are in every bit as much turmoil now. I just didn’t have the same connection with them.

New Hampshire television news has some coverage of the story here: http://www.wmur.com/news/16592166/detail.html#

They take reader submissions of photos as well, I’ve sent in the two I posted here for their archives.

As I write this (10:08 p.m.), the fire is still too young to have any clue what happened. They were still pumping water on it at 9:00, when I decided to move on and get home.

Not much else to say about that, really. I’m going to go sit with my thoughts now.


Comment by Arondelle

June 13, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

I just caught the story on WMUR, and your photo of the smoke column was featured at least in the website promo.

Going over to that website now to check it out.

Comment by Carrie K

June 13, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

Fires, floods, earthquakes. We live a precarious existance after all, don’t we? That’s so sad about those businesses.

Comment by Carol

June 13, 2008 @ 5:40 pm

Thing like this remind us all of how tenuous life can be. I hope the businesses and people manage to come through this okay.

Comment by Reed H.

June 23, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

Hello, I was a regular customer of AHOP, am curious if they’re going to reopen or anything. Anyone know how to contact Nagi and Rosie? I don’t remember their last name exactly or where they live.



Comment by kjands

June 29, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

did anyone find out how to reach the owners of AHOP yet? thanks

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