Fire blazes at Main Street business in Ekalaka

Members of Ekalaka Volunteer Fire Department and Baker Volunteer Fire Department work to extinguish a fire at Mainstreet Market on Monday afternoon in Ekalaka.

Courtesy of Eric Lovec,

The Ekalaka Eagle

A fire at Mainstreet Market caused significant damage to the Ekalaka building Dec. 17. At around 5:50 a.m., Sheriff Neil Kittelmann was called because the back door of the business was open and there was graffiti painted on the exterior. Shortly after 6 a.m., it was discovered that a fire had burned inside the building sometime between Sunday night and early Monday morning. Ekalaka Volunteer Fire Department was called. The sheriff’s department, EVFD and fire marshal inspected the scene that morning. At that time the fire was cold.

A second fire at the building was called in at around 12:15 p.m. Ekalaka Volunteer Fire Department members arrived on scene with a structure unit and team led by Assistant Fire Chief and incident commander Mike Ashbrook. At 12:53 p.m. Baker Fire Department arrived with two structure units to provide mutual aid. Carter County Rural Fire provided assistance with water. Local EMTs arrived to assist in blocking the street and to continually check vitals on the firemen as they came out of the intense smoke inside the structure.

Firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading to nearby businesses including the Guest House and Wagon Wheel. Mainstreet Market is closed indefinitely. There are not yet any reports of damage and the fire is currently under investigation. More information will be released as it becomes available.

About the building

The building where the Mainstreet Market was located holds a great deal of history. It was built in 1931 by Charles Pickard. Pickard had previously ran his meat market just up the street from the location.

Upon completion Pickard moved into his new location, and added other goods to his store. After Charles passed, his son Tom Pickard operated the meat market for a while before eventually closing up shop.

Later, Clarence and Ina Crystal rented the building and used it as a trading post. Sometime in the early 1960s a fire in the building forced the couple to move their trading post to a building located where the current senior center is.

After the fire, the building sat vacant for some time until it was purchased by Larry and Florence Cruthers. The Cruthers did a great deal of interior work to the building, including drywall and shelves, turning it into a liquor store and gift shop. Over time, the Cruthers slowly began to add some small, mini-mart type items such as milk and eggs.

In 1982 Vernon and Linda Boggs purchased the market from Cruthers and added a wider variety of inventory.

From 2002 to 2015 the market was owned and operated by Deb and Roger Kortum. The couple retired in 2015 and sold the business to Cassidy and Tandi Jesperson, current owners of the business and building.

Other notable fires at Ekalaka businesses include the fire at the original Eagles Nest in 1909, the Old Stand Bar in 1980, the old theater in 1982, the Cinch Club in 1984 and the old funeral home in the early 2000s.