Store owners assess damage a day after massive blaze
Blackened concrete littered the sidewalk and acrid smoke permeated the air yesterday, a reminder of the devastating fire that damaged or destroyed several downtown businesses, apartments, a boat and a car on Monday.
“We’re just numb right now,”said a representative of the Berdanis family, which owns Venue Clothing Store and several apartments.
Yesterday, roughly 24 hours after the massive blaze ripped through the building, the family was trying to pick up the pieces.
On top of Venue sits three apartments, all of which were severly damaged by the fire, which started at the nearby Betty K. Agencies Ltd. shortly before 8 a.m.
“Right now we’re trying to salvage. It’s a few people who were living on the third level so we’re trying to salvage their clothes,”said the family representative, who gave her name only as Ms. Berdanis.
“Right now they have none. Some of the people were visiting. It’s just the personal items right now.”
Yesterday, members of the Berdanis family, who were all dressed in work boots, were bringing down items from the upstairs apartments. A few pieces of clothing were salvaged and barely anything else.
As for the business operation, Berdanis said she has no idea when the family will rebuild.
“It’s going to take many months to bring it back to business level. Right now we’re tying to deal with the insurance people so we’re a little busy,”Berdanis said.
Two Venue employees stood across the street looking at their place of work, unsure whether they still have a job.
“We don’t know what’s going on,” said one employee.”We don’t know anything. I don’t even know if I still have a job.”
Smoke rose from the charred remains of several buildings yesterday–an indication that the fire was not completely smothered.
Fire Services Director Superintendent Jeffrey Deleveaux said yesterday firefighters were still fighting small fires that were beneath the surface.
He said they identified several hot spots which could potentially flare up again.
Venue Clothing Store, EF Liquor Store, Botani Bash and Betty K Agency Ltd. were all destroyed or severely damaged. Additionally, the Bacardi Store, the Churchill Building and the Clothes Closet Building were also damaged.
Some stores near Betty K were spared any serious damage.
Sandra Walker, owner of the Clothes Closet Building, which houses Timex Watch Center, Green Parrot Bar and a clothing store, said most of the 120-year-old building withstood the fire.
“I am absolutely 100 percent sure it is the Bermuda roof that we put on about 10 to 15 years ago that[saved it]. The flames were absolutely lapping over the entire building at one point and that roof survived and it is absolutely amazing,”she said.
Walker said when the rebuilding efforts begin business owners should consider installing Bermuda roofs.
But while some parts of her building were not affected by the fire, she said the back of the building, which did not have a Bermuda roof protecting it, succumbed to the fire.
“Looking at it, it doesn’t look like a lot of damage but if you look at the back of the building that is…destroyed,”Walker said.
“You can’t get to the back of it.”
She said the Watch Service Center is out of business. However, Walker added that the Green Parrot and the clothing store suffered mostly water damage.
Walker estimated that the clean-up effort would take about a week.