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Burned Out Businesses Attempting to Rebound

Burned Out Businesses Attempting to Rebound

Posted - May 12, 2003 at 6:06 p.m.



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Jed Boal Reporting...One of the largest fires ever, in Salt Lake City burned seven businesses to the ground, last March. Today, one of them re-opened, in new office space.

When a five-alarm fire roared through a South Temple strip mall March 10th, 30-foot flames and thick smoke filled the sky. And Todd Holbrook and his partners were just getting a new real estate business going.

Todd Holbrook/Metropolitan Real Estate: “THE FIRE AND FLAMES JUST RUMBLED THROUGH OUR OFFICE."

Now he hopes new business will rumble through a new office. Metropolitan is starting over several blocks east. They still have to contend with South Temple construction, but feel they can persevere.

Todd Holbrook/Metropolitan Real Estate: “HAVING IT BURN TO THE GROUND AND SEEING EVERYTHING DROP TO ASHES IN A MATTER OF A COUPLE OF HOURS WAS PRETTY DEVASTATING."

An outdoor awning survived the fire. Remarkably, so did a fichus tree. The realtors brought them along to their new office as symbols of their stamina.

Jed Boal/Eyewitness News: “NOT ALL OF THE BUSINESSES THAT WERE BURNED OUT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET BACK ON THEIR FEET SO QUICKLY. A SHIPPING BUSINESS LOCATED RIGHT HERE, LOST ITS ENTIRE CLIENT BASE, AND THE OWNER IS STILL TRYING TO FIND A NEW LOCATION."

Bart Johnson/Business Owner: "FOR ME THIS WAS MORE THAN A FINANCIAL LOSS"

Bart Johnson's entire livelihood was in The Shipping Connection. He says life was good. He was even thinking about early retirement. Then he lost it all.

Bart Johnson/Business Owner: 15 YEARS OF CUSTUMER RECORDS...WHEN IT TURNED FROM A SMOKE FIRE TO A FIVE-ALARM FIRE ... VAPORIZED."

The burned out buildings were leveled. A melted streetlight and charred utility pole are the only reminders of the inferno.

"Paxton Guymon/Businesses' Lawyer: WE BELIEVE THE DAMAGE COULD HAVE BEEN CONTAINED...BUT, WE BELIEVE THEY COULDN'T DO THAT BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF WATER SUPPLY."

The City has disputed the water availability issue. But both businesses say they may sue the city and the property owner once they see the ATF cause and origin report in the next few weeks.

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