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Onlookers said it started with a few flames. Soon after, black smoke was billowing from several businesses and apartments.
"The whole street was pitch black, you couldn't see hardly, see the boom trucks shooting water through, it was so black," said Chuck Nussbaumer.
The 911 call came in around 3 p.m. Friday. Fire crews from across Wayne, Ontario, and Monroe counties were called to the scene.
People in neighboring businesses stopped what they were doing to help rescue trapped residents.
"Then we kicked in the bathroom window, smoke came out more, it was getting too bad, so I went through the hallway window, on the back roof, came out with another guy, took an axe, busted the kitchen window," Robert Kelley, an employee of Pop's Hots.
"With us being a volunteer organization, everyone has to come from home or wherever they may be, so it probably had a good five- to ten-minute head start on us," said Captain Bob Dublin of the Palmyra Fire Department.
The fire burned through a line of stores, including Mark's Pizzeria, Goldie's Boutique, and Spark of Divinity Congregation, and several apartments upstairs.
"Because we are a small congregation, we don't have any kind of insurance, so anything, we lose anything... we don't have any way to replace it," said Cheryl Paine.
"I was sitting there watching TV, she was cleaning the other rooms, all of a sudden, I smelled smoke, I open up my door, it was so black you couldn't see anything," said resident John Langshultz.
"It's going to be huge eyesore for our village, but hopefully the owners of the building have insurance of course, and they hopefully will rebuild, because this is a quaint little village," said deputy mayor David Husk.
Residents had to reassess and figure out what was was left behind in the apartments.
"TV's, my coin collection," said John.
"My pocketbook with important stuff in it, the rest of the money in there, and my medicine," said Theresa Langshultz.
Even after losing everything they own, John and Theresa are taking it in stride.
"What are you going to do? You going to get upset, get a depression or something
It's better to shake it off," John said.
According to the deputy fire chief, the fire started on the third floor, but a cause has yet to be determined.
More than 100 firefighters from 13 fire departments were on scene to help extinguish the fire. The Red Cross is helping nine displaced residents