The cleanup is underway in Bathurst after a fire Friday night destroyed an entire corner of a city block.

Gail Badman operated a fabric store in the affected location for years. She says the loss is much more than just a destroyed building.

“Heart-wrenching,” said Badman. “I still have a queasy feeling in my stomach. I think it's like the loss of a loved one. We put a lot of work into this building through the years. I don't know how we'll start over.”

She says she’s not sure where to go from here.

“What's next is a lot of paperwork, insurance claim and will go from there. We don't know yet, we are still numb.”

A passerby reported the fire around midnight. Just a few hours earlier, hundreds of families gathered around a Christmas tree in the downtown core, with children receiving presents after the Santa Claus Parade.

“You wouldn't believe the smoke and the flames coming out of these buildings,” said Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet. “It was awful.”

The buildings were used as offices, a pet store, a restaurant and apartments.

Mayor Brunet says the city is ready to help.

“We have a business development committee and that business development committee will entertain ideas that they want to put forward,” he said.

The fire is believed to have started at the back of one of the buildings that went up in flames.

Fire officials have yet to determine a cause.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.