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Fall River residents react to massive fire that burned down a local business

Photo Courtesy: Francisco Estacio

A massive fire that took down the Flint Hardware Store on Pleasant Street in Fall River Friday night is still under investigation. On Saturday, residents of the city all stopped by the site of the store to survey the damage. Frenchy Cahill used to work there. She told NBC 10 that she would help with cleaning and maintenance chores.

“(I was) Crying, crying. I was all upset," she said. "That man was so good. He was a good man.”

'That man' is owner Manuel Botelho. He and one customer were inside when the fire broke out. Botelho was well-known in the community for having his pets – including two birds, a dog and a cat – all inside greeting customers.

“It was my life," Botelho told NBC 10. "It’s where I make my living. I’ve been in business for the past twenty six years.”

People in the community recalled the fire that could be seen for miles.

“I bought some stuff. Everything was fine," said Joe Furtado of his visit to the store earlier in the day. "I talked to the owner and everything was fine and then I left and somebody called me up and they told me the store on Pleasant Street is on fire.”

Now a pile of rubble remains. Icicles are left over to show the intensity of the fight. An apartment building next door was saved. The fire melted the siding off on one side, but people were still inside on Saturday.

While the iconic Flint Hardware Store is now gone, a gracious owner’s life must go on.

“Thank you for everything they’ve done for me over all these years while we lived in this economy. That’s all I can say,” said Botelho to members of the community.

“Oh my God, they’re going to miss him," added Cahill. "He had a lot of friends and a lot of people that liked him. He had people here all the time, all day long.”

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