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Fire damages two West Galax businesses

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By Shaina Stockton, Staff

The Galax Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire call early Wednesday, when a blaze ignited in Fire Technologies in West Galax. The fire reportedly burned up through the second floor, causing damage inside the West Galax Diner on the upper floor, as well.

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The fire department was notified of the emergency at 4 a.m., after a Diner employee arrived for her shift and found smoke at the scene.

"She unlocked the door, and smoke just started rolling out," said Guy Sapone, owner of the restaurant. "When they got here, they had to hook up fans to roll out the smoke."

The department responded with 25 firefighters and six trucks, according to Capt. Mike Ayers of the fire department.

The first group of firefighters made their way to the back of the building, where they discovered flames behind a cooker, close to an electrical distribution panel. "They attempted to put that out, and then they discovered that the fire was actually on both floors," Ayers said.

Fire Technologies is a business in the basement of the building, directly under The Diner. The department quickly repositioned, and extinguished the fire there.

"We don't know what happened, but it looked electrical," Ayers said. "It could have been a lot worse if the lady hadn't come in when she did."

Sapone and Fire Technologies owner Barry Newman arrived later that morning to survey the damage at both businesses. A walkthrough revealed smoke and fire damage throughout one section of Fire Technologies, and similar damage caused by the fire burning up through the kitchen floor.

K-Style Studios and Stoney Creek Millwork, a dual neighboring business, also received some minor smoke damage as a result of the fire.

"We're not out of business," Newman told The Gazette, noting that only some of their materials were lost, and that he and his workers could work around the damage until it's fixed.

The Diner's doors, however, will be closed while repairs are made. "We are hoping to be back up in two to three weeks," Sapone estimated for his restaurant. As he looked over the damage, he and another employee considered the silver lining — at least it wasn't a complete loss of either business.

Sapone's biggest lament was the timing of the situation, pointing out that the busy fiddlers' convention week is just around the corner.

"Hopefully, they can get the crew in quick and catch the back end of fiddlers,'" Ayers said. "I know that there will be a lot of folks disappointed come lunchtime today."