Photo: The fire at Jimmy’s Food Mart that occurred on Saturday, April 18.
A three-alarm fire destroyed the convenient store Jimmy’s Food Mart and damaged a business block – including a new restaurant days away from opening – at the corner of Belmont and School streets on the Watertown line.
At this time, no one is thought to have been injured in the fire that occurred just after 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 18.
Belmont Fire Department Fire Chief David Frizzell told the Belmontonian the department received a call reporting a fire in the store.
“When we arrived, there was heavy fire in the back of the market. We don’t know if the store was open but there was someone there,” Frizzell said.
The inferno and smoke could be seen blocks away as flames reached high into the twilight sky as dozens of firefighters battled the conflagration so it would not spread to an abutting residential building at the corner of Lewis Road. Bystanders flocked to the scene as sirens and a helicopter brought attention to the scene.
The blaze halted traffic on the normally busy thoroughfare as fire equipment from neighboring communities – including Watertown, Cambridge and Waltham – lent mutual aid, sending vehicles and the MBTA 73 bus onto Fairview Avenue. In addition, electricity was cut off in the blocks near the fire.
“A Watertown engine arrived when we did so we had help from the start,” said Frizzell.
It took about half-an-hour to knock down most of the flames.
“Jimmy’s is heavily damaged, the roof has come in and there’s heavy fire damage. It’s a loss,” he said.
Parmjit Singh, owner of Jimmy’s, located at 297 Belmont St., was watched from across the street as his business burned.
“I put all my dreams in this town,” Singh told the Belmontonian. “A lot of people supported us. Now my business, everything is gone.”
Singh and his wife and partner, Surinder Kaur Dhaliwal, bought the shuttered site of the former Shore Drug in 2013 and opened it as a convenience store in January 2014. The store is managed by their son and business partner, Jimmy Singh.
Since opening, neighborhood reaction has been overwhelmingly favorable, with residents commending the owners for operating a clean and inviting business. Earlier this year, the Belmont Board of Selectmen rejected a beer and wine license to Singh and Dhaliwal.
“I was here until 10 a.m. when I went home to sleep. Then my wife called to say the business was on fire,” Singh said. He does not know what the future holds for Jimmy’s.
“I want to open. I need to open. But I don’t know right now,” he said.
The fire caused heavy smoke and water damage to the other retail establishments on the block, said Frizzell. The businesses including Shine on Salon, Parmagian & Marinelli Law Office, Dr. Edward J. Burns Optometrist, Hemmingway Tailoring-Alterations, and a new eatery, “Tony G’s Barbecue,” in the former location of Gustazo Cuban Restaurant at 289 Belmont St. It was reported to open soon with new furniture and fixtures already installed.
The fire is currently under investigation by the Belmont Fire and Belmont Police departments as the Massachusetts Fire Marshall was also at the scene, said Frizzell.
“We’ll be here for the rest of the night. There’s pockets of fire we still need to get to. There’s quite a bit of work ahead of us,” he said.