Neighbor, Artist Hope Destroyed Bloomsburg Art Center will Rebuild

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BLOOMSBURG -- An art and community center in downtown Bloomsburg is boarded and locked up after a fire destroyed the building on Thursday.

The Moose Exchange housed a non-profit organization focusing on arts in Columbia County.

William Whitmoyer rented an art studio on the first floor.

"The firefighters told me it's directly under where they were putting in the most water in the building," said Whitmoyer.

The artist said he had about $1,000 worth of supplies in his studio.

He hasn't been able to go into the building since the fire.

"That's just kind of the assumption I'm running on right now, that everything's gone," said Whitmoyer.

Even though his one-of-a-kind artwork is gone, the artist is staying positive. "There's so much more to create. It seems like it should be a huge loss, but at the same time, it's just stuff."

This isn't the first fire on this stretch of Main Street. Four years ago, a blaze ripped through three buildings on the other side of the street. Only one company decided to rebuild.

Michael Zarrat owns Towne Camera in Bloomsburg.

In 2009, he watched his business burn to the ground.

"I was really sad, of course, because we had been through a fire a few years ago. It brought back a lot of lousy memories and I really don't want to see another building in my community disappear," said Zarrat.

He knows what the owners of the Moose Exchange are going through.

Zarrat said it won't be easy, but it is possible to rebuild. "Once you make that commitment, every step gets easier. But those first five days, I probably was not in the right mood to rebuild."

The executive director and the board of the Moose Exchange building met Friday morning.

They said they're waiting for the insurance company's recommendation on whether or not to rebuild.

Firefighters believe the building is a total loss.