Families and businesses in Bisbee are trying to live life as normally as they can. Two weeks after the Valentine’s Day fire scorched two old buildings, city leaders are still working with fire crews and engineers on a plan to rebuild.

On a visit back to Main Street, a couple who run their small cake shop said even though things seem fragile for the moment, they hope Old Bisbee will bounce back.

Tom and Kathy Jackson’s shop is only two buildings west up Main Street from where the fire started. The pair walked KGUN9 to the back alley behind their store, where we saw the extent of the damaged stores and apartments.

“Safe doesn’t feel safe,” Kathy Jackson said, “when your friends are out of their business, some people are out of their homes. We’re just so fortunate it wasn’t windy, that our firefighters were right on top of it.”

On this visit, parking on Main Street was at an even bigger premium. There will be a balancing act if neighbors and visitors want to support the small businesses there.

This week, Bisbee city leaders said they’re finishing a plan to prop up the brick walls in the burned buildings. Once contractors finish that, leaders said, engineers can inspect the extent of the damage and help architects decide how they’ll restore this part of the historic district.

The Jacksons woke up early Thursday morning Feb. 15 to hear the awful news. “I woke Kathy up,” Tom Jackson said, “and I said, ‘Hey, downtown’s burning.’ Then, we heard the addresses and then we realized that it was our friend Alex.” Jackson referred to one of the store owners who lost everything.

The Jacksons said both tourists and locals are still trying to navigate the open path to go up and down the heart of Main street, even with fences and barriers up. Still, Tom said he and Kathy are taking things in stride because they have regular customers who depend on them.

“We can’t just really not make their wedding cake and let them down,” he said. “The same with the other merchants; and I think it’s because we all have an entrepreneurial spirit, in order to even have a single proprietorship on Main Street Bisbee. That spirit comes through, I think, in times of tragedy.”

Tom and Kathy Jackson can still take orders at BisbeeGoodCakes. Other stores who’ve talked to KGUN9, like Bisbee Soap and Sundry, cannot open their front door yet so they have to count on customers ordering items online for now.

Kathy Jackson said the heart of Main Street still relies on people and vibrant crowds to come into stores to shop. “Even a weekend of street traffic (makes a difference)” Kathy Jackson said, “…We don’t know how long this will go on.”

Still, the Jacksons said that out of this emergency, Bisbee can start a new chapter as it did after the devastating fire of 1908. “Bisbee’s come back from many worse things,” Tom Jackson said.

“The original fire at the turn of the 20th century, (it) burned the whole downtown down and then all these other buildings rose up from those ashes.”

“We have everything to be grateful for,” Kathy said. “We live in a tight-knit community. We’re really fortunate. That’s why we’re here in the first place.”



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