FARLEY, Iowa — Farley’s only grocery store and the apartments above it were a total loss after a major fire Friday morning.
Farley Fire Chief Rod Kramer shared that assessment with the Telegraph Herald regarding the fire that broke out in the building housing Greenwood’s Grocery and the apartments at 112 First St. NW.
No injuries were reported, as everyone in the building was able to exit safely, he said. Six people lived in the upstairs apartments.
The grocery store has been owned and operated by the Greenwood family since 1946 and always has been active in the community through activities such as sponsoring local sports teams and events and helping fund local causes.
“It’s not just a fire-in-a-grocery story,” said Farley Mayor Jay Hefel, standing outside Friday morning as crews continued to fight the blaze. “This is like losing a part of you, a part of the community.”
It’s believed the fire began at around 5:40 a.m. Friday, according to Kramer. His department was notified and responded by 6:10 a.m.
“Somebody was over here with a fire extinguisher, a bystander, trying to knock out visible flame coming from a window and an air-conditioner unit,” he said.
Farley was joined by the Dyersville and Epworth fire departments. Together, Kramer said, the crews succeeded in containing the fire to the Greenwood’s building.
“It was total destruction for the store and the apartments. It’s going to be a total loss there,” he said. “But everybody was able to get out safely before we even responded. And we were able to head it off before it reached Bill’s Tap or the post office. There was a little smoke damage, a little bit of soot, but no water damage to those.”
Hefel lauded the departments’ efforts.
“We would have lost that other building if they hadn’t done what they did,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who thought we were going to lose both of them. I can’t praise the fire departments enough for what they were able to accomplish here today.”
By 10 a.m., the grocery’s metal exterior revealed little of the damage inside. But overhead photos show a section of the roof destroyed, near where Greenwood’s joins Bill’s Tap. Canned goods, visible through broken out storefront windows, were charred, labels burned away, still sitting on shelves. Dyersville firefighters entered and exited second-floor windows via their engine’s ladder, still fighting hot spots inside.
No cause for the fire had yet been determined.
Greenwood’s boasted a renowned, 1950s-style meat counter — as evidenced by the store’s slogan “Home of fine meats” printed on its sign outside — serving hand-cut steaks, chops and other goods, which drew people from surrounding towns as well. The store also had a kitchen staff, which offered a daily lunch special, catered events and smoked meat to order. It was a gathering place.
As well as Greenwood’s meat, produce and meals, the store’s support of community events and efforts was a trademark.
“It’s a family-pride-owned store,” Hefel said. “That family pride spills into the town.”
Current owner Tim Greenwood was shaken by the loss of the store that had been in his family since his father, Eldon, opened it after returning from World War II. But between phone calls outside the grocery store while firefighters still worked nearby, Greenwood expressed hope for the business’ future.
“We’re just on the phone with insurance companies, trying to get somebody over here,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do something to rebuild.”
Hefel grew up with Greenwood and said he knows the community will rally behind the family.
“He only lived one house away from me. We’ve been together our whole lives,” Hefel said. “It’s going to take some time to take it all in. But we’re going to rebound. I guarantee, the City of Farley, its community members are going to do anything and everything we can to help out Tim Greenwood here.”
Neighbors stood around Greenwood in the store’s parking lot by 11 a.m., already offering fencing, boards and rebar to help secure the building’s entrances until inspectors could determine a cause for the fire and sort out the insurance details.