A huge fire tore through several buildings Monday in Natick, Massachusetts, Monday, leaving the livelihoods of small business owners in ashes.
Thick plumes of smoke could be seen coming from an unforgiving 8-alarm fire that morning as the blaze sent three firefighters to a hospital and consumed several businesses.
Nancy Kelley has been teaching kids how to dance at her Natick Center studio for 35 years. Tuesday, the debris from that studio continued to smolder.
"I'm just very sad today," Kelley said through tears.
Since the fire, Kelley has heard from current and former students, she said.
The roof may have protected some of Kelley's things, she said. A soda machine and a piano from the 1800s were standing Tuesday.
"Every piece that I get brings back a memory," she said.
Some of Kelley's neighbors were protected by a fire wall.
"That saved us," said Rosemary Wright, owner of dog grooming company Clip and Dip. "Thank goodness."
Wright hopes to reopen next week. She hadn't thought that would be possible as she watched the flames roar.
"I just cried, because I said, 'I can't start all over again. Twenty-nine years in one location,'" Wright said. "And I just said, 'No.'"
A few doors down, shoe cobbler Oleg Abamelak evaluated his business Tuesday, finding it smokey and without power, but otherwise in good shape.
Eleven years ago, Abamelak had a shop across the street that burned, completely destroying it.
Fellow small business owners like Kelley stepped in to help. Now, she and seven other business owners are in need.
The help is already coming in. Kelley has been offered studio space this summer.
Her years spent working in the community have left a mark that even a fire can't destroy."
"People are good," Kelley said. "They pull together."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.