KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A store damaged in the fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters reopened its doors Tuesday for the first time since that fire. Larry Leggio and John Mesh were killed when an apartment building collapsed, sending smoke and debris into Snyder's Supermarket next door.
The reopening didn't have the giant sales or giveaways of some store grand openings, but they were giving out plenty of hugs.
“We love you and we are so thankful for you supporting us all those years,” Sharon Hooper, a meat department worker told customer Linda Jackson.
“I was a cashier that night and it was just terrible," Hooper said of the October fire. Every time I go to the front, I look that way, I just get cold chills through me.”
The apartment building next door collapsed in a massive fire, Leggio and Mesh were killed as they stood between Snyder's and the building.
“I knew both of them from coming to St. Joseph Senior Living. They were just wonderful guys, it touched our heart,” Jackson said.
Investigators determined a nail salon owner on the first floor of the building intentionally set the fire. Thu Hong Nguyen has been charged with arson and murder.
“If you do something like that for personal gain and it costs good people their lives, I think you should be charged with murder,” customer Artie Harris said.
The building next door has been demolished, flowers have been planted in tribute to the fallen firefighters.
The first store to rise from the ashes from the tragedy is Snyder's. Customers are happy to have it back for the convenience. Many say they had to ride the bus in the six months since to get their groceries. But they are happy to have it back for another reason, it’s the store those firefighters were helping protect from spreading flames when they gave their lives.
“I think it’s a good thing that they did open up, because it didn’t run them out, so I think it’s a good tribute to the firefighters I really do,” Steven Scofield said.
The store’s owners are hoping to place a permanent memorial to the fallen firefighters in the store sometime in the future.
Most of the staff at Snyder's working there in October are still with the store. The owners were able to pay them the entire time, despite being closed.