A fire that damaged several businesses on First Street in Monticello last week has been ruled accidental.
A neighbor reported the blaze to authorities around 3:30 a.m. on November 28. Investigators say the fire started in the back of Monticello Carpets and Interiors and spread to Tease Salon. Home Furniture Gallery and Keleher's Jewelry sustained significant smoke damage.
The fire also impacted several apartments in those buildings. Ashley Husmann, a resident of one of those apartments, considers herself lucky she got out safely.
"I'm a deep sleeper," Husmann said.
Husmann lives in a downtown apartment and was sleeping when a police officer woke her up and told her that a nearby building was on fire.
"I'm grateful. I'm very grateful for him what he did. He was very brave for going into a house that was on fire to save me," Husmann said.
Husmann is now one of four tenants without a home, after her unit and two others sustained significant structural damage from the fire.
Her unit connects to the backside of several businesses, four of which sustained significant damage.
Teri Keleher owns a jewelry store two doors down from the worst of the damage.
"As we started driving down we could see the smoke hovering over the buildings," said Keleher, who was alerted something was wrong when their alarm system went off after 4 a.m.
She and her husband's store has sat on First Street downtown for 18 years.
They spent Wednesday looking for a new location, after being forced out temporarily due to smoke damage.
"This is our busy time of the season. We have awesome customers who support us so hopefully they will continue to do so in a new location," Keleher said.
The cause and the exact origin of the fire are still being investigated.
The fire marks the worst in the heart of downtown Monticello since the Dollar General burnt down in the 1960's.
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