#WyoStrong: Recovery from devastating fire well underway for Lander businessman
#WyoStrong stories, brought to you by Central Bank & Trust, highlight Wyoming perseverance, ingenuity, creativity and resilience.
(Lander, Wyo.) – It is a business owner’s worst nightmare. On August 1, just after 7 a.m., a fire began in an upstairs apartment at 201 Main Street that ultimately resulted in the total destruction of one of Lander’s oldest buildings. In addition to five upstairs apartments, the building housed the offices of New York Life Insurance Agent Beau Wendling. The fire was ruled accidental, caused by a loose electrical receptacle that caused a short in an upstairs apartment.
“I’m doing well, I’m getting by,” Wendling told County10.com. “I’m more than thrilled that no one was harmed, including my tenants and I’m really appreciative of all the community help during and after the fire.”
Wendling said that even though he lost a building that he had just purchased and remodeled, “I pretty much got out all my records, and most importantly, my client’s files were all saved,” he said. “The fire never reached the ground floor, but the ceiling started falling down. At one point I crawled through the bricks and fallen ceiling to get my insurance records in the back of the building.”
“I’m taking it one day at a time, I’m staying positive,” he said. “I can rebuild my business, but my tenants lost their homes, their photos, belongings, memories. From what I’ve heard, they are all okay, the community has done things for them.”
Wending, who’s birthday was August 2, the day after the fire, said it took him 7-8 years to build up his business enough to buy a building. “I wanted to be on Main Street. Those seven years of work and savings are now gone.” As an insurance agent, Wendling said he did have insurance. “I will be made whole, but it will be six months to a year to get all the insurance claims settled, so I’ll be staying here for at least a year,” he said, “but if something comes along, I’m not stuck by any means.”
Wendling’s temporary office is in the northwest corner of the building at 453 Main Street, adjacent to Ace Hardware’s Glass and Screen shop and El Sol De Mexico restaurant.
All in all, Wendling admitted that the fire and its aftermath “has taken a big toll on me. Live and learn, as they say, but I have a great support system from my friends and the community. My parents also came up from Rock Springs the day of the fire.”
He said his clients “have been great, they’re very patient and told me to get back to them when I can. For the most part I’m back to operating 100 percent.”
As for the land at 201 Main where his building used to stand, “it’s for sale, and I know it’ll probably take some time, in the mean time, I’m making my new office home.”
NOTE: Wendling had special praise for the actions of the City of Lander, the Lander Volunteer and other fire departments who responded to the call, the police department, Wade Alexander, Lance Hopkin and Mayor McOmie who made things happen. “We had to move fast to remove the building for the public’s safety,” he said. Lander’s Centennial Park bordered the west wall of the burned building. He said special thanks were due to Bill Bregar at Ace Hardware for making a space available for his temporary office.