Posted at: 09/13/2013 8:47 PM
By: Sean Boswell

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Businesses Face Uncertainty After Winona Fire

(ABC 6 News) --  Officials say a fire in downtown Winona began at the Islamic Center several hours before it was reported around 2 a.m.  The fire then continued to consume more buildings in the downtown area.

"I'm just so sad,” said Sherry Russeau, owner of “Pretty Things,” a clothing store located in a building that caught fire at around 1:40 this morning. "I mean we work really hard... We're both... You know we're sad," said Russeau.

Sherry Russeau and her daughter in law have located their businesses in Winona for years.

"We just got our fall fashion in and so we're a little devastated," said Russeau.

"Our main concern was losing the block," said Winona Fire Chief Curt Bittle.

He said he’s never seen anything like this before.

"I believe this is the first time we've actually had 4 arial devices running in the city of Winona, in the history of the Winona Fire Department... It was a large fire," said Bittle.

Winona Mayor Mark Peterson said he was impressed by the fire departments response.

 “It was impressive to see those flames coming out, and for 4 hours they were dumping water on these buildings and it was a tough fire to put out," said Peterson.

Some of the buildings have been around for more than 100 years.

“They get pieced together and added on to with additions and so forth, and so it makes firefighting efforts extremely difficult," said Bittle.

Now, an uncertain situation awaits for Sherry Russeau and many others.

“This is a big blow, a big blow," said Russeau.