'It overran us in seconds': Cressman's General Store owner describes trying to save business from Creek Fire

An iconic stop for travelers headed toward Shaver or Huntington Lakes was destroyed as the Creek Fire grew in Fresno County.
SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- "It can almost take your breath away the first time you see it," says Cressman's General Store Owner Ty Gillett. "Because you just saw it the other day and it was a vibrant, bustling place."

Ash and ruble are now where the iconic store once stood over a century. A staple in the community since 1904.

Gillett hoped to save his store from the Creek Fire. He stayed open to provide fuel and food for first responders until Monday night when the Creek Fire moved in.

"There was 200-foot flames coming down the hill at us, and explosions blowing things back over our heads," he said.

Gillett was alongside fire crews as they did everything possible to save the store.

"The number one priority was to get everyone out of there," he said. "And there was no fighting that fire. It was overwhelming and it overran us in seconds."

Gillett lost his home and his business on the same night.

"When we drove out of there, we knew that there was no surviving it," he said.

He and his family have a place to stay in the Valley. Now his focus is shifted to helping employees, with Proceeds from a Cressmans GoFundMe fundraiser .

"We've got 16 employees that are all out of a job, and some out of their homes," Gillett said.

Grateful for the outpouring of support, Gillett says Cressman's will be back.

"Sad to look at it," he said. "I mean, it's devestating to look at what happened to the place. But we can fix it. So we are going to start right now."

PHOTOS: Creek Fire destroys iconic Cressman's General Store in Fresno Co.


The Central Valley community mourned the loss of an iconic business that was a part of getaways for many generations.

The owners released a statement, saying the pain of losing the store was 'suffocating' but vowing to rebuild Cressman's.



Here is their statement in full:
To our mountain community, we know you have watched and endured this terrible tragedy with us.

A beloved historical landmark has been lost and the pain our family and community is enduring is almost suffocating at times. The mountain communities are hurting as a whole.
We are very touched at the outreach from everyone with offers to help.
We are still processing the details but we will rebuild this landmark and continue to support our community members.
Our love and thoughts are with everyone affected by this terrible tragedy.
Our home located along Pine Ridge is a complete loss as well as our beloved Cressman's.
We are grieving with you all. For those of you who live in our mountain community or love to visit, we will rebuild as a community.




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