MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The owner of Boltz Hardware, a store serving the Eastern Panhandle for 90 years, will never forget the night of February 17.The Martinsburg Fire Department went to the Winchester Avenue store known for home improvement, gardening and Mountaineer apparel that night to find flames coming from a second floor window.“It was pretty wild,” owner Ted McDonald said. “We were at one of our client’s houses doing drywall in their basement. My mother called me at around 7:22 or 7:23 hysterically asking me where I was. Then she says ‘well, your store is on fire’. I grabbed my buddy Greg who was working with me and threw him in the truck. I got there and it was just a massive fire shooting out of the roof and the second story. It was not cool.”According to the store’s website, Boltz offers hardware, gardening tools, bird seed, window and screen repair, flags, bulk candy and more. The store is known for friendly customer service from employees who “love helping customers solve problems”.McDonald said on Panhandle Live, heard on MetroNews affiliates WEPM & WCST, that he has spent a lot of time assessing damage to the structure and his inventory.“There is an awful lot of product that is damaged. The walls are very damaged, the old plaster walls. The plaster is cool, but behind it you have that wood. Those floors were put in I think in 1940 or 1950 and they hold water better then plastic.”As news of the blaze tore quickly through the city, residents were seen stopping by to lend a helping hand. Facebook Live videos showed dozens of residents lining Winchester Avenue and South Street as crews worked to put out the fire.“I swear half of the city of Martinsburg was there,” McDonald said. “Everybody there was like ‘can I help?’ and people were bringing me thermoses of coffee. Somebody’s grabbing my pickup truck and going to Lowe’s to get plywood and saws to cut the plywood. Because I don’t (have anything), it’s all either wet or burned up.”As of Tuesday, McDonald said he was still waiting for insurance money to come through. A friend of the McDonald family set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses in the meantime.While he doesn’t know yet how long it will take, McDonald said he wants to reopen Boltz as soon as he is able.“It’s still a long ways away. I have to get power to the building, we have to get structural engineers out there and then start getting estimates from different contractors as to the best way to move forward. Obviously I would prefer to have my building back, but there’s always a possibility that we’re going to have to demolish the structure and put something else up.”Investigators have since determined the cause of the fire to be accidental and electrical.Boltz opened in it’s current location in the 1920’s. For more information, visit their website or Facebook.
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October 20, 2020 - 12:13 am