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Businesses destroyed in downtown Sturgeon Bay fire

Overnight, fire tore through the Harbor Place Shoppes, located at the foot of the landmark steel bridge.
STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - A block of historic downtown Sturgeon Bay went up in flames.

Overnight, fire tore through the Harbor Place Shoppes, located at the foot of the landmark steel bridge.

"Disbelief, stunned, I am still stunned" says Doc Ranly, owner of Ranly Maritime Gallery

Four business owners, including Ranly, planned to kick off the busy summer tourism season this week. Instead they are sifting through rubble.

"In my opinion it is a total loss. It is pretty bad inside" says Chief Tim Herlache, Sturgeon Bay Fire Department.

Damages could easily top $1 million.

"It is hard to put a real figure on it. All the walls were filled with my paintings" Ranly explains.

He is known across Door County for his intricate model ships. His gallery that took years to build was gone in minutes.

"I do not have any artwork to start a new place" he says.

The fire also destroyed Door-Tran offices, The Steel Bridge Cafe and Faith Alive Fellowship Church.

"The church is the people, not a building" says Cathy Gossen, a member of the congregation.

However, that does not make it easier to see memories covered in soot.

"My husband and I had bought the chairs that you can see the stems from right now, in remembrance of our first born granddaughter who was stillborn" Gossen says through tears.

The complex had room for eight businesses however, two of the spaces were vacant.

"There was partial fire walls, as with any old building there are multiple roofs, multiple ceilings, just makes things really difficult to get at" explains Chief Herlache.

Though there is a lot of work ahead business owners are already looking to the future.

"If the owner of the building decides to rebuild I will be first in line to get a place there" Ranly says.

Nobody was hurt in the fire.

It is not yet known exactly where or how it started.

According to the Chief there is no reason to believe it is suspicious.

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