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Some Kingston businesses still closed nearly a month after arson

Union Leader Correspondent

February 12. 2018 4:41PM
Glen Romel, who owns Stitched in Stone with his wife, is still awaiting new ceiling tiles after others were removed due to smoke from the Carriage Towne Market fire on Jan. 17. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

KINGSTON — Some businesses in the Carriage Towne Plaza remain closed nearly a month after a local man allegedly broke in and set a fire that damaged a convenience store and spread smoke through the building.

“We’re losing a lot of money,” said Tammy Romel, who owns Stitched in Stone with her husband, Glen, and has been forced to close their fabric and quilt shop while they wait for new ceiling tiles to be installed after the old ones had to be removed due to smoke damage.

Stitched in Stone is one of the businesses affected by the fire John Gates, 44, is charged with setting inside Carriage Towne Market in the early morning hours of Jan 17.

The fire damaged the market, which remains closed, and created headaches for other businesses, including Exeter Hospital’s physical therapy office and Core Physicians’ Kingston Health medical office, which have temporarily closed and relocated to offices in Epping due to smoke damage.

The Romels said they had no choice but to remain closed on the advice of their insurer because old ceiling tiles were removed but have yet to be replaced. They can’t be replaced until repairs are made to the Carriage Towne Market space.

The closure has forced the Romels to cancel their regular quilting, knitting and other classes, which are held every day except Thursdays. Their shop also offers a variety of fabrics, supplies, and sewing machine services.

“We have customers calling all the time,” said Glen Romel.

It’s not clear when they’ll be able to reopen.

At the time of the fire, Carriage Towne Market’s Devendra Patel said it would likely be several weeks before he would be back in business.

Gates is being held in lieu of $50,000 cash bail on burglary and arson felony charges and has denied involvement in the fire.

According to an affidavit, when first questioned by Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr., Gates denied being anywhere near the market. However, in a subsequent interview claimed he walked to the area of the plaza to look for food in the Dumpsters. Police report finding footprints near the store, but not in the area of those dumpsters.

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