A crew from Harco Air was working outside Outer Banks Dermatology in Nags Head on Friday afternoon when they spotted flames behind The Christmas Mouse store next door.
As winds gusting up to 25 mph whipped the fire, worker Michael Walton rushed into the iconic store to get anyone inside out.
“I ran in there and let them know the back of the building was on fire and they needed to get out,” Walton said. Minutes later, the back of the store at 2401 South Croatan Highway was engulfed in flames. No one was hurt.
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The blaze, reported at 2:15 p.m., spread to a CenturyLink tower behind the building, and a small thicket of mostly pine trees to the north.
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A huge column of smoke could be seen for miles as firefighters battled the blaze, which was still smoldering as of 3:30 p.m.
Westbound (north) traffic on U.S. 158 fully reopened to traffic around 4:30 p.m. Wrightsville Avenue was closed to traffic between Admiral and Driftwood.
Traffic continued to crawl through the area, and police were asking that sightseers stay away.
The Christmas Mouse at mile post 10.5 opened in 1987. The two-story, 8,000-square-foot store features nine rooms upstairs and four sections downstairs filled with Christmas trees, wreaths and other decor.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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