WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Vendors are frustrated as Cooks Flea Market will not be open until next week, at the earliest, after a raging fire tore through the roof of part of the market Wednesday afternoon.
The damage is so significant that portions of the building will have to be demolished. Photos taken by Tony Famolaro show that the beams supporting the roof were melted. Famolaro is with Southern Comforts, a construction crew out of Nashville, Tennessee, that is overseeing the cleanup process.
The incident has also caused some to lose hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Leading up to Father’s Day is a busy time for those selling their goods and a lot of vendors say they stocked up to prepare for the rush. However, all of that merchandise is now just sitting inside the Winston-Salem market.
Michelle Miller has a clothing booth at the market called “The J Spot” and estimates she’s lost upwards of $7,000 worth of merchandise. Her booth was set up right where thick, black smoke was seen shooting out of the roof.
Miller says the circumstances have left some sellers worried about making ends meet.
“There’s people in that flea market, that’s all they do,” Miller said. “That’s how they feed their families. That’s how they pay their mortgage and that’s a sad situation.”
She is just one of the approximately 500 people who have shops inside.
On Thursday morning, around 30 vendors showed up to try to get inside the market. However, they weren’t allowed to get as close as they would’ve liked.
“When your stuff is there you want to know ‘What have I lost?’” Miller said. “But no one communicated, cause I wouldn’t have came.”
Under the Sun owner Monica Hawkins is worried the fire could cause a ripple effect for business.
“The weekend is where you make your money,” Hawkins said. “When the smoke clears and if you have any kind of allergies, and people aren’t going to want to bring their kids right away. But, hopefully, by the following weekend, things are going to be cleared up more.”
Some of the vendors say there are a lot of people using power outlets and surge protectors to run their booth.
However, they have no idea if those actions are what caused the blaze.