Sunday, February 25, 2024

Community rallies around hair stylist who lost salon, dog in Norge fire

A door, blackened and warped, sits wide open beneath the faded numbers “6971.”

Through the doorway are mounds of ash, twisted metal and joists dangling from what remains of the ceiling. Rays of sunlight sneak through gashes in the walls and roof, but the burned-out room remains blanketed in black and gray.

Somehow, the front sign for Mia’s Salon remains upright on the roof, a reminder to drivers on Richmond Road of the business that was open just days ago in the Colonial Town Plaza shopping center in Norge.

“I grew up with her salon,” said Lauren Rothwell, daughter of salon owner Mia Rothwell. “She treated it like a second home. She had a beautiful garden.”

Several potted plants, still green and full, sit on a front porch that is coated in charred debris and overturned furniture.

The salon was one of three businesses — including the Williamsburg Brass Shop — that were destroyed by a fire Saturday night, and Mia Rothwell was lucky to even survive. Her daughter said Mia was asleep inside the salon when the fire erupted.

“The only reason she was able to get out is she just happened to have her friends drive by,” Lauren Rothwell said. “They saw her car was there and were pounding on the door to wake her up.”

Mia Rothwell had already nicknamed her friends, Mary Ann and Bill Hewitt, her guardian angels for their support over the years. They earned the nickname again Saturday night by kicking in the door to wake up a panicked Rothwell and pulling her outside to safety.

What was left inside the burning building was nearly everything that Rothwell owned and cherished.

‘More than we’ll be able to get back’

Lauren Rothwell said her mother was too devastated to speak with WYDaily or even post on Facebook. Instead, Mia Rothwell allowed her daughter to share the news on her own Facebook account with her friends, family and clients.

Mia Rothwell, 52, lives with her mother in Lanexa, but still slept in her salon from time to time.

“She downsized and has a few things in a storage unit. Most of her personal items were in the salon,” Lauren Rothwell said.

How much did her mother lose in the blaze?

“I can’t even think of a dollar amount — more than we’ll be able to get back,” she said. “Out of anything, she’s the most devastated about our dog, Bella.”

The 12-year-old Yorkie was inside the salon Saturday night and has not been seen since.

Helping hands

Lauren Rothwell live in Orlando, Florida. From four states away from Virginia she decided to set up a campaign to help raise funds for her mother.

The campaign has exceeded its initial goal of $5,000, with a new goal set at $7,500. Donations and kind words continue to pour in.

“It’s overwhelming. I don’t think she realized how loved she was in this community,” Lauren Rothwell said. “It was incredible, the amount of love and prayers” she received.

Mia’s Salon has been in Williamsburg for nearly 30 years and in its current location for more than a decade. Lauren Rothwell said her mother loved her clients and has been styling some customers’ hair since they were children.

“She’s the most generous and kind person, the most thoughtful person I know, truly,” her daughter said.

Other salons in the area have reached out to the Rothwells to offer support and even space to continue to operate her business.

Mia Rothwell is quick to write thank you cards to those who help her, but reluctant to accept assistance, her daughter said.

“She’s a very proud woman. She doesn’t even want me to do this GoFundMe,” Lauren Rothwell said. “She’s very overwhelmed, and she can’t believe all the support.”

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