Two businesses destroyed in large building fire in downtown Oxford: 'Devastating'

Sean Coffey Image
Monday, November 6, 2023
Two businesses destroyed in Downtown Oxford building fire
The building at 123 Williamsboro Street housed two small businesses, Farrar Jewelers Inc. and Healing Haven, a wellness center.

OXFORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Monday morning building fire in downtown Oxford destroyed two businesses and kept firefighters busy for hours.

Oxford Fire Chief David Cottrell said the first calls came into the department just before 8:30 a.m., and his crews worked for hours to get the fire under control.

The building destroyed is in the city's historic business district, and historians estimate it had stood on Williamsboro Street since the 1880s.

It housed two small businesses, Farrar Jewelers Inc. and Healing Haven, a wellness center. Both businesses were destroyed in the blaze, and are still taking stock of what, if anything, might be salvageable in the wake of the fire.

"I built this place up from the ground up, you know, and I worked really hard, you know, to keep this place," said Amanda Wright, who owns Healing Haven. "And then I have other people who work there, so they're going to be out of work for a minute, you know, so and we don't even know how long."

Wright said Healing Haven just celebrated its third anniversary in downtown Oxford on Nov. 1. It's a similar story for Joe Farrar III, who opened Farrar Jewelers Inc. just seven months ago.

"I don't know how to explain it. It's crazy. You know, just nuts," he said.

Farrar said the timing couldn't have been worse, with the busy holiday shopping season rapidly approaching.

"The majority of the business - of our business is at Christmas time," he said. "So, yeah, it's kind of devastating to see all that, all the smoke coming out and all that."

The city, meanwhile, is already working to help the two business owners get back on their feet. Oxford's Downtown Economic Development Director said they're starting by trying to find both businesses temporary space.

"Right now we're doing everything we can to really rally behind them, looking for temporary locations to so they're able to continue through for the holidays because that's already started for them," said Alyssa Blair.

That's something that both Farrar and Wright are grateful for.

"It's like one big family in Oxford," said Farrar. "Everybody's come together to help out. They're already looking for buildings and everything. For me, they're set up, so hopefully we'll be open as soon -- back open as soon as possible if we can."

Chief Cottrell said it's still too early to say where exactly the flames originated - or what could have started the fire. He said no one was inside when the fire began and there were no injuries. An investigation into the blaze is underway.