Published On: Thu, Jul 13th, 2017

Fire destroys grocery store

Black smoke billows from the “Cizek building” portion of Tiger Town Food & Floral Center Sunday.

OSMOND — Osmond area residents are in shock after a fire Sunday destroyed Tiger Town Food and Floral.
Business owner James Bessmer had been inside the building earlier in the day, getting ready for the coming week. He had been “all over the store” and had even been in the basement fixing a water line, he said, and never saw any signs of fire. He left the store about 2 p.m. The fire call came in one hour later.
Osmond Fire Chief Marty Kruse said a passer-by noticed smoke coming from the northwest corner and called in the alarm. Osmond fire trucks responded within two to three minutes, and Plainview Fire Department was called in right away for mutual aid. Kruse said the Pierce, Wausa and Randolph fire departments were called in shortly thereafter.
Once they determined they weren’t able to reach the roof with their equipment, Kruse said, the Osmond department called to get the Norfolk aerial unit here. It arrived 45 minutes to an hour after that. At that time, the fire started coming through the roof.
Kruse said 400,000-500,000 gallons of water were pumped into the building to douse the flames.
Part of the reason for the mutual aid was because of the severe heat. With temperatures in the 90s, the men could only work for 10-15 minutes before switching out, taking off their gear and taking a breather, Kruse said.

Firefighters take a breather after the fire at Tiger Town Food and Floral Center was extinguished Sunday.

It took several hours to get the fire under control. By 7 or 8 p.m., the mutual aid was able to leave, and by 10 p.m., most of the Osmond group was able to leave. About eight-10 firefighters stayed until about 11 p.m., Kruse said. After that, Police Chief Gary Umberger kept an eye on it.
Kruse said the insurance agency notified an engineer who had to check to see if the building is safe before the state fire marshal could go in to inspect it. As of noon Tuesday,  a quarter-block area around the grocery store was still cordoned off.
There are concerns there could be falling bricks, and the public is asked to stay away from the area.
“The barricades are there for a reason,” Kruse said.
Until the engineer and the fire marshal’s office can complete their assessment of the damage, the Bessmers have no way of knowing how much can be salvaged out of the south building. Hopefully the shelving, James said Monday. It is an ongoing investigation, with no specifics on the cause as of Tuesday noon.
As for the future of the business, which the Bessmers have owned since December 2011, James and wife, Nancy, said, “We’re going to try.”
“We don’t know what it’s like not to go to work every day,” said Nancy, reflecting on the recent events Monday.
The Osmond Republican office, next door to the grocery store, sustained heavy water damage in the basement and smoke throughout the building. Osmond Senior Center, the next building south, had a “wet spot” in the basement and a smoke smell in the building.
With the wind out of the south, firefighters monitored New Frontier Insurance, situated across the street to the north, for flying embers. Co-owner Dennis Kuhl said smoke seeped into the building, but there was no damage to the roof.