(BEDFORD) - A part of Bedford history burned to the ground Saturday when George's Gateway, at 2201 M Street, burned to the ground.
The hardware store has been a part of Bedford since 1958. Residents lined the streets and parking lots in awe, crying and praying as Bedford Fire Department firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.
But it soon became a battle of defense. Battalion Chief Steve Haverly had his hands full orchestrating the effort to save the building as water supply became an issue.
Flames leapt into the air, burning electrical lines and walls began to collapse.
Firefighters used the ladder truck which allowed firefighters to douse the flames from 100-feet above. Off-duty firefighters were called to the scene.
The fire was reported just after 7 p.m. The fire started in the southern part of the building where the loading dock, small machine shop and Just Ask Rental is located.
The area was crowded as residents came to watch their beloved hardware store go up in flames.
"It is a shame, a darn shame," says Glenn Prewitt, who lives just down the road from the store. "I would walk down here and get just about anything a person would need here. I hate this. These kind of stores are not around anymore, They are gone, and replaced with big business, who could careless about a person. There are not any hometown businesses anymore. Its just hate this."
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The store was opened by George Brinegar, and is currently owned by Tom Bertolino, who worked in the store during high school.
Many remembered when Brinegar opened the store in 1958 and attending the grand opening. The original name of the store was George's Gateway to Bargains.
Many were glad that George was not here to see the store destroyed. "It would have broke his heart," one said.
Sadly, George passed away in 2009 at the age of 95.
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