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Fire destroys Cascade’s only pharmacy: ‘We loved that place’

Investigators have determined Tuesday morning's fire at Watkins Pharmacy was accidental.

CASCADE, Idaho — A fire ripped through a business in Cascade on Tuesday, destroying Watkins Pharmacy located at 104 Main Street.

"It’s been a center of the community type-building and now it’s not there,” Cascade native and Fire Chief Steve Hull, who was among the firefighters on scene, said.

The fire was reported at 2:46 a.m. by Valley County Sheriff's Office deputies, according to dispatch. The building burned to the ground, leaving a hole in the heart of Cascade. 

“It is devastating, especially having a commercial building, a corridor of downtown Cascade and where it was a pharmacy and everybody relied on the business," Hull said. "It'll definitely put a damper on the community for a while."

The Idaho State Fire Marshal's Office said Thursday that investigators have determined the fire was an accident. The pharmacy was closed for the night when the flames were reported. The cold added an extra layer of challenges, as crews battled the flames.

“A few slips and falls from the ice but no injuries,” Hull said. “Right now the roof has caved in everything, so it’s holding heat underneath that roofing material. So, we have to cut that and get access to what's still burning. It takes manpower and is a timely process.” 

The fire also caused smoke and water damage to the Cascade Public Library, just feet away from the pharmacy. 

“We loved that place,” Meridian's Gene Mullins said.

Mullins and his wife were on their way to McCall to celebrate their 60th anniversary when they passed through Cascade and saw what happened. 

“It made me real sad, because we just drove up this morning and we were planning on stopping there," Mullins said. They used to have some really neat stuff."

All that remains are memories, burned debris and a shell of what once was.

Idaho State Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl - who has led the investigation - said on Tuesday that "to the best of our knowledge" there was no one inside when the fire started.

Investigators reviewed security video and examined burn patterns as they worked to put the pieces together.

Local resident Stacia Boston said many residents who relied on the pharmacy will now need to plan trips to McCall to get their prescriptions filled - a particular hardship for the small town's senior citizens.

On Tuesday afternoon, Watkins Pharmacy, Coffee and Gift Shop posted on Facebook, thanking the Cascade community and first responders for their support and efforts following the devastating fire. The Facebook post can be read below:

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