SHELBINA, Mo. (WGEM) -- Investigators say they may never know what started the fire that destroyed several stores in downtown Shelbina overnight
The first call came in around 10:30 Wednesday night and 10 fire departments were brought in to fight the massive blaze.
Fire officials say it looks as if the fire started in the back of Gary's Parts Store and the building was fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived.
Three shops, Gary's Auto Parts Store; Photos To Remember; and the Chicken Coop were destroyed and at least one other nearby store was heavily damaged.
As smoke continued to billow from the structure this morning, community members and business owners gathered to see the destruction.
For many, it was a devastating sight.
"I had no insurance and it's a total loss," said Jo Kampschmidt.
Kampschmidt's shop, the Chicken Coop, was in the middle of the flames last night.
"We had a great time there," said Kampschmidt. "I had a group that came in every morning for coffee. I had so many who came in all day to visit or shop."
Where she once sold nicknacks, collectibles and other miscellaneous items, on Thursday, lay only charred ruins.
"I'm too old to start over so it will just really change my life," said Kampschmidt.
Kampschmidt wasn't alone in mourning last night's losses.
"I spent 47 years of my life in this town and I love these people here," said Sammy Oshner, former owner of Sam's Auto Parts. "It's a good community and it breaks my heart."
Oshner sold his auto parts business in January but hasn't let go of his fondness for the building.
As he surveyed the rubble, Oshner was looking already to the future.
"I hope the community will get behind and save these buildings," said Oshner. "I know you can't save the back part of them, but somehow save the front part of them and maybe build new buildings behind them."
Sadly for Oshner and others, fire officials determined the buildings weren't safe enough to leave standing, and just hours after this video was shot, the crews began to tear them down.
Small towns have a way of pulling together though, so perhaps there's still some hope the community can find in this heap of rubble.
Already, those gathered were trying to look on the bright side.
"No one was hurt, just things," said Kampschmidt. "And that's what's important."
Because the buildings were too unsafe after the blaze, fire officials say investigators were not able to get into the building so the cause of the fire will probably never be known.
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