ST. HELENS, Ore. -- The employees of the Les Schwab Tire Center in St. Helens had a brand new start Monday when their new store reopened a year after it was destroyed by a fire.
Last year, the Les Schwab Tire Center on Highway 30 burned to the ground in a fire that took days to put out. It was so big that it even forced some Hood to Coast runners to take a different route.
Piecing together customers' cell phone video, fire investigators figured out the 2012 fire actually started inside the store somehow and not out back in grass like previously thought.
They have not determined exactly how it started, though.
With the hundreds of tires and flammable liquids inside, the blaze burned for days and shocked the close community of St. Helens.
In the days that followed, customers donated items like a refrigerator and managers from dozens of other Les Schwab stores drove up with supplies and staff to open a temporary location.
A year later, those 13 employees were back in their original, but bigger location.
Store manager Terry McMahon almost got a little choked up talking about it.
We're one big family, he said. It's just phenomenal and you go home at night and you just go 'Wow, this is awesome'. It's scary, but at least you know your people will be taken care of. Then you gotta figure out how you take care of the town because they're still going to need you.
The store was still working out some first-day kinks, but loyal customers were even coming by to take pictures of the new store, a model for other newer Les Schwab tire centers.