Continuing after the flames

Times-Herald Staff
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Post Horizon Booksellers to reopen Tuesday

Nelson Reid looked into a wall of flames and wondered if he would soon lose it all.

Nelson Reid, owner of Post Horizon Booksellers has had a busy month since the fire caused smoke damage to all of the books in his store. Reid, along with friends and volunteers have cleaned all of the books in the store. The store will re-open on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m..

On March 12, Reid, the owner of Post Horizon’s Booksellers, and his wife Wanda stood in the Safeway parking lot with the owners and tenants of the Jubilee Block and they watched a fire destroy four businesses and the residences of 20 people.

Minutes prior, Reid was the first person who noticed the smoke and quickly called 911.

“I just came down to the basement to get my tape measure and as soon as I got outside I smelled smoke,” Reid recalled. “I got to a certain point and there was no more smoke and I realized that’s right here somewhere. I looked and saw there was smoke coming out of the jubilee block.”

As Reid stood with his neighbors watching the flames and the fire department soaking the block he wondered if it would be the fire or water which would destroy his home.

“Next to fire, water is the next greatest enemy of books,” he said.  “Knowing it was both our home and our business you are powerless.”

The fire never reached the bookstore and neither did the water.

The next day Reid walked into his store and everything looked just like it did the day before the fire. However each and everyone of his 22,000 books was damaged by the smoke.

“It would have been tragic to see the store burn or to see everything soaked but at least the decision would have been out of my hand,” he said. “I could have thrown in the towel and they probably would have written it off but there is six years of work in putting these collections together.”

Reid was left with difficult decisions and many questions.  In the past month  he has only been a few doors down from the rubble that still sits where the lost businesses sat.

“If you do walk by the rubble you begin to see things. There is someone’s muffin pan, there is the remains of someone’s shirt. It ceases to be only a pile of rubble but the element of people’s lives that are included in there,” he said. “There are no easy answers to why they don’t have anything now and we can still carry on.”

After the fire, the Reid’s relied on the support of the community and friends. They stayed at the home of Father Bingham of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church until their home above the store was safe to return to on April 11. It was coincidently the Reid’s 27th wedding anniversary.

“This season of lent has been unrelenting. It’s was disruptive but we are very grateful,” said Reid before adding that friends and even strangers have been support and encouragement.

“It sustains you to keep going when the days are really rough, or the work seems overwhelming to get ready to reopen again,” he said.

Since the fire, the Reid’s along with help from a handful of friends have been hard at work taking each book off the shelf and cleaning every page of the 22,000 books in the store. Each book has been wiped down and cleaned with a specialty vacuum and many of the shelves have been sanded down to remove the scent of smoke.

Reid hasn’t given up because he has put six years of work into collecting rare and select books that he loves.

“It is my passion. I do this for the love of books,” he said. “There is always a sense of loss when a book goes out the door … and maybe that reflects on how I feel about books.”

Post Horizon’s Booksellers will open on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and at 6:30 a.m. there will be a book Céilidh to celebrate the stores reopening and that Post Horizon Booksellers survived the Jubilee fire of 2014.

“There was a point early on where we were living hour to hour then it got from day to day and now we are ready to, I think, renew a sense of normalcy,“ Reid said.

Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.

Organizations: Safeway, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church

Geographic location: High Street

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