‘Willey Farms Is Gone': Fire Tears Through Popular Delaware Farmers Market

Willey Farms promises to rebuild after overnight fire burns down popular market

What to Know

  • Willey Farms has been a staple in Townsend, Delaware, since the 1970s.
  • The family-owned produce market caught fire early Monday.
  • "Willey Farms is gone. From the Deli thru to the greenhouse. Produce. Natural Foods. Home Accents. She’s all gone."

A well-known, family-owned farm and produce market went up in flames in Delaware overnight leaving the community devastated and the family vowing to rebuild.

Flames broke out at Willey Farms on Dupont Parkway (U.S. Route 13) in Townsend, Delaware, shortly after 2 a.m. Monday.

"Our whole family is just devastated," Roo Willey, the owner's cousin, told NBC10's Tim Furlong. "Literally all of our hands and feet have been in this place at some point in our lives."

The fire quickly expanded to multiple alarms as firefighters from neighboring towns joined the firefight and brought in water. Smoke continued to rise from the rubble of the 125,000-square-foot building through the morning as firefighters feared walls could collapse.

Flames consumed a family-owned produce market overnight. Willey Farms in Delaware has served the Townsend area for decades. The fire began early Monday morning. One firefighter was brought to the hospital showing signs of shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate. The family is devastated but plans to rebuild.

No one from the farm was hurt but a firefighter was treated for shortness of breath, firefighters said.

“Hi Guys. We’re all safe,” Willey Farms posted on its Facebook page that is liked by nearly 11,000 people. “The firefighters tried to save her. They worked real hard. But Willey Farms is gone. From the Deli thru to the greenhouse. Produce. Natural Foods. Home Accents. She’s all gone. We don’t know where to start really. Kinda numb right now.”

Donald and Irene Willey began Willey Farms as a fruit cart at the end of their street. From there is expanded to a market that covers six acres, according to the company’s history posted on its website. Willey Farms is a destination for holiday shoppers, gardeners and food shoppers from around the region.

"At heart, Willey Farms is still a roadside farm market, but like the six children, simply all grown up," the market says on its website.

The family is already talking about rebuilding:

“It will be lots of hard heartbreaking work. But she will be built again,” the Facebook post said. “We do know that. Thank you for reaching out to us. Thank you for being our customers and friends for 43 years. ��Thank you so much. Thank you for your continued prayers and thoughts.”

Expect traffic trouble in the area.

NBC10 First Alert Traffic reporter Jessica Boyington is tracking the effects of the Willey Farms Market fire on your Monday morning commute. Route 13 north and south are closed between Summit Bridge Road and Pine Tree Road. Route 1 is suggested as an alternate route. The closure is expected to be in place for an extended amount of time.

No word yet on what caused the blaze.

Also, Willey Farms warned customers that they have not sanctioned any online fundraisers at this point saying its too early at this point to consider anything like that.

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