Fiery destruction in Delta

Community absorbs loss of Salvation Army store

As she gestures toward her store’s charred remains, Billie Lawson, center, talks on the phone as she wanders in front of the Salvation Army Thrift Store she manages in Delta as her husband Jack McFarland follows Sunday. The store and Nichol’s House of Carpets were destroyed and a vacant storefront was smoke damaged in a fire late Saturday.

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Manager Billie Lawson had seen plenty of good things happen at The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Delta.

Saturday night, she watched something horrible happen there.

Lawson rushed to the store, which is connected to Nichols House of Carpet on one side and an empty restaurant on the other, when she heard at 10:30 p.m. that the building was on fire.

At that time, the carpet store alone was on fire, she said. Twenty minutes later, though, the flames spread next door.

Lawson picked up a few items outside the store Sunday afternoon and observed the gutted building, which is a total loss.

“We provide a good service here and now it’s gone,” Lawson said. “We just loved giving and helping.”

Drivers routinely made a detour around the back of the stores at 175 and 177 E. First St. to observe the wreckage. Many were longtime customers, including Juan Costa.

“It’s going to be really hard on the community” not to have The Salvation Army store, Costa said.

Larry “Buck” Casto, who visits the store four of the six days it’s open each week, is confident the store will find a new location soon.

“I bet they’ll have one going within a week,” he said.

Lawson said donations can either be saved for re-opening of a store or sent to Salvation Army locations in Montrose or Grand Junction.

James Nichols, the owner of Nichols House of Carpet, could not be reached for comment Sunday. Bonita Steele, who performs payroll services for the carpet store, said she drove by the store Sunday morning.

“It looks pretty gruesome,” she said.

Nichols Floorcovering Inc., the corporation behind Nichols House of Carpets, began in 1993, according to Secretary of State business records. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office dissolved the corporation in 2000, then reinstated it, then dissolved it again in 2003 after the corporation failed to file a periodic report and pay a $45 fee.

Steele said the carpet store still operated under the corporation. When asked if the store was planning to close, she said, “I can’t say anything about his (Nichols’) business.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined.


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