Businesses come together to help three stores damaged from Wausa - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Businesses come together to help three stores damaged from Wausau fire

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

The community is coming together to raise money for the three businesses affected by a fire in downtown Wausau Tuesday.

The owner of one of those businesses says it's that support that's keeping him going.

Kevin Korpela was sitting in his office in Downtown Grocery Tuesday night, when he saw a burst of orange.

"We thought oh a sunset at this time,” said Korpela, the store's owner. “But then we looked again and said that's not a sunset. So we ran out to the back door and a cardboard refuse bin was on fire."

His employees called 911 and evacuated, watching his business fill with smoke.

"The inside of the building is mostly smoke and soot," said Korpela. "It's amazing what happened and how does that happen, but at the same time what is the recovery. So we can work to reopen as much as possible."

Part of that recovery is this community giving back.

"To gather after something like this is just the most natural response especially when you have a close knit community like the River District," said Elizabeth Field, the River District executive director.

As part of “First Thursday's” downtown, where stores offer deals, they were also collecting donations in jars. It's something other store owners say is the least they can do to help.

"Everybody in downtown is a small business to begin with, and everybody will come together in tragedy," said Angie Gonzalez, the owner of Jalapenos restaurant.

Besides the donation jars, there were also a board that's outside of the three businesses affected by the fire. It has post it notes on them for people to write words of encouragement for the owners affected by the fire.

Owners say they're not sure when downtown grocery will reopen. But they say it's the encouragement of the community that keeps them going every day.

"I hope we open soon,” said Korpela. ”So just to thank everyone who has taken the extra time to make those extra gestures in a tricky time for many businesses right now."

If you couldn't make it Thursday night, you can drop off donations at the River District office on the 400 Block.

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