Large Fire Destroys Businesses on Historic Denton Square

One firefighter was treated for dehydration, officials said

A large fire destroyed several businesses along Denton's historic downtown square Tuesday morning.[[466564293,R]]

The fire was first reported after 4 a.m. at the Downtown Mini Mall, a landmark store known for selling vintage items and other collectibles.

"It's where you'd go to find unique gifts for maybe a white elephant, joke gifts," said Meredith Rosson who lives in Denton. "In the windows they'd have everything from Samurai swords to unique tea sets, just a collection of everything."

Firefighters couldn't do much to save the iconic business. Residents and vendors gathered outside when they heard about the fire.

"We were coming here for years, before we had a booth," said Lindon Webb. "Most of the vendors here are retired, like me. So they're going to lose whatever livelihood they have."

Vendors like Donna Boenker could only watch from the street and feel helpless.

"Over on the side where it keeps smoldering, all of that was mine, plus four other booths," said Boenker.

The building is a total loss, though firefighters were able to save several other businesses and apartments on the square.

"It's still too early to tell where the fire started," said Denton Assistant Fire Chief Brad Lahart. "We know it started in the rear of the building, but how it started, it's too early to tell, until we can get in there and dig everything out."

A portion of the building's roof collapsed and adjacent structures also sustained smoke and water damage. Video posted on the Jupiter House Coffee shop's Facebook page showed extensive water damage inside the business.

Crews from Lewisville, Flower Mound, Fort Worth, Aubrey, Lake Cities and Krum assisted in battling the 4-alarm fire.

The flames appeared to be under control by about 6 a.m.

Firefighters said they would returnd overnight Tuesday to check on hotspots. 

The daughter of Leo Will, the owner of Denton's Downtown Mini Mall, has started a Go Fund Me account. Stephanie Will-Shipp says insurance "is nowhere near enough to cover the loss incurred to either the structure or its contents."

"My parents are in their 70s and it just pains my heart to see them endure this loss at this point in their lives," Will-Shipp wrote.

It's not immediately clear what caused the fire. Will-Shipp said her family plans to meet with investigators Wednesday.

One firefighter was treated for dehydration, officials said. No other injuries were reported.

Due to the fire, Locust and Austin Streets are both closed between Oak and Hickory Street. The Denton Police Department said the closure is expected to last 24 to 48 hours.

MORE: Denton Downtown Mini Mall Fire on

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