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n-yarfire-012909 Community pulls together to help displaced businesses

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n-yarfire-012909 Community pulls together to help displaced businesses

YARMOUTH — With the support of other local businesses, neighbors and friends, business owners displaced by a fire at 500 Route 1 have started to get back on their feet.
As a way to help them do so, Jean Libby, assistant vice president and branch manager at Bath Savings Institute, said an account has been created for the benefit of the business owners.
Libby said she and Carolyn Schuster, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, are working to find ways to support the business owners affected by Jan. 2 fire.
"The account established here is one way to help those who need start up money to get back on their feet," she said. "We have received donations and will accept them through Jan. 30."
In addition to the bank account, Bath Savings has also made nine desktop computers available to businesses in need.
To help organize distribution, the chamber has compiled a list of information from people who have items to donate and from businesses who have specific needs. Schuster also created a list of all businesses that were housed at 500 Route 1, and keeps them informed of available items via weekly emails.
"We have seen an outpouring from other businesses and residents, even from surrounding towns," Schuster said.
Bisson Moving & Storage of Westbrook and West Bath has donated desks and bookcases, Ruth's Reusable Resources in Portland called the chamber to offer supplies and Casco Bay Micro of Freeport offered to retrieve files from water- and fire-damaged computers.
"The community spirit is shining through and I am so proud to be a part of it," Schuster said. "Even if people can't donate items, they have offered meeting space, coffee or food. People have given of themselves in very creative ways."
According to Fire Chief Byron Fairbanks, the nearly month-long investigation into the cause of the fire is "making headway."
There have been several meetings between the Yarmouth fire and police departments and representatives of the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the York Police Department over the past month.
"We met with the business owners to bring them up to speed and talk to them about what was going on," Fairbanks said. "Now, we are waiting for the crime lab results and waiting for more questions to be answered."
It has yet to be determined if there is a connection between the Yarmouth fire and an arson fire in York that caused about $50,000 in damage to two offices.
A few displaced businesses have remained in Yarmouth, including the offices of Northeast Medical Practice Consultants, now at 10 Forest Falls Drive.
Dr. Howard Kessler and the other doctors at Coastal Neurobehavioral Center have moved to 46 Main St., an office owned by Kessler. He said the space was used before their practice grew too large, and said he was grateful it was available when needed.
"We moved immediately after the fire," he said. "We had to refurnish the
space, but we managed to get up and running in about a week."
Some businesses have moved out of Yarmouth to surrounding towns. Funeral Alternatives
has moved to 417 Route 1 in Falmouth, and according to its Web site, Soft Trac, a business that
provides software and training to non-profit organizations,
relocated to 361 Route 1 in Falmouth.
Three other businesses now share a suite at 5 Fundy Road in Falmouth – Bob Cerf of Club Z in-home tutoring, Ingrid LeVasseur of Clinical Thermography, and Lynn Breckenridge of Green Stone Natural Health.
Dr. Mark and Teresa Fischer of Fischer Family Orthodontics have subleased office space at 147 Route 1 in Freeport. Teresa Fischer
said they are open for business Monday through Wednesday, and are using
Thursdays and Fridays to look for a permanent location.
"Everyone has been so wonderful and supportive," Fischer said. "Friends, patients, residents and even members of the Boy Scouts have given us dinners, desserts, cards, and support."
For more information on how to help the businesses, contact the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce at 846-3984.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.