MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — Strong winds from Thursday’s severe thunderstorm caused a transformer to hit the side of the Shoetopia shop on Avalon Avenue. Manager Krissie Ritchey believes that’s what caused the building to go up in flames.
Prior to that, Ritchey said she began to close the shop early because of severe weather alerts.
“Contrary to my normal protocol, I closed and locked the doors about three or four minutes early and drove the two and half miles home,” Ritchey said.
Ritchey said her car was parked near the back corner of the building just a half hour before the winds struck, knocking down a utility pole. She said had she stuck to her normal routine and not left early, it would have been a different story.
After leaving the shop, Ritchey said friends and community members tried desperately to get in touch with her once the building caught fire.
“I think I think I knew what to expect before I ever came just based off the fact that my phone was lighting up like crazy,” Ritchey said. “I had a police officer calling me and I had the insurance agent from next door calling me.”
Ritchey said she’s thankful for the Shoals community and the connections the store allowed her to form throughout the years.
“I get to sit with someone who’s coming in with their prom dress or their wedding dress and play dress up and we get to just celebrate them,” Ritchey said.
She said she’s also thankful for the first responders and their service to the community, “I watched those firefighters suspend over the flames for two hours yesterday nonstop fighting to try to contain and prevent more damage.”
She called their actions a sacrifice and a blessing—a reflection on the Shoals community that she now considers family.