Looking back a year after the Bert’s Pharmacy fire

The night of March 13, 2022, changed the face of downtown Hastings forever.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 10:56 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The night of March 13, 2022, changed the face of downtown Hastings forever.

Electrical wiring in the iconic Bert’s Pharmacy sign is believed to have started the fire that night and burned its way through the building’s second floor.

Owner Tom Choquette told Local4 News he remembers finding it hard to wrap his mind around as he stood and looked at the fire.

He said coming out of the fire he’s thankful to everyone who helped him and his business following it. That help came in the form of both mental and emotional support, as well as tangible things like a cup of coffee.

Choquette said he was grateful to have the 14th Street location of the Pharmacy to move all pharmacy operations into, without it, he doesn’t know how the business could have gone on.

He said a year later he feels for the other businesses affected by the fire.

“The community has been very supportive, it’s been very hard on our neighbors down there too, and initially it was fire, and then smoke and water that did damage to our neighbors down there, but then the demolition, the dirt, the block street, just a lot of issues that seem to go on forever,” Choquette said. “So. I felt very sorry for our neighbors down there, everybody had to go through this.”

The Director of the Hastings Downtown Center Association, Megan Arrington-Williams, said they were sympathetic to the situation.

“You can’t control things like fire, like water damage, or things of that nature so most folks were understanding that you know it wasn’t mal intent or anything like that it was simply an unfortunate accident,” Arrington-Williams said.

Arrington-Williams also said she was impressed by how the businesses came together in the wake of the fire, with things like the Barricade Sales to help promote businesses when streets had to close due to the Bert’s Pharmacy building demolition.