Commercial Center tenants bounce back after blaze

An Oct. 20 fire may have destroyed a former thrift store in the Commercial Center shopping complex, 953 E. Sahara Ave. , but nearby business owners feel fortunate not to have experienced the same level of damage .

The fire began around 4:30 a.m., according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in a thrift store that had beenclosed for several years. Clark County firefighters extinguished the blaze by 6 a.m. with most of the damage sustained between the former building’s walls. County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said the fire damage is estimated at $500,000, and the incident is still under investigation.

Judy Del Rossi, co-owner of Tiffany Couture Cleaners, about three units from the former thrift store, said one of her employees arrived at the shopping center shortly after the fire started and saw the first firetruck on the scene. Del Rossi said that when she arrived at around 5 a.m., 10 fire trucks were at the scene, and she grew worried, witnessing the event from across the center on Karen Avenue.

“I watched (the fire) burn from 5 to 7 (a.m.),” Del Rossi said. “It was pitch black, and all we could see were flames coming out of the top. We had a lot of show pieces in (our store), and we were very concerned.”

Fortunately, Del Rossi said, her store, which has been at the center since 1970, suffered no damage. She said firefighters told her the reason that the damage was contained was because of the firewalls between the buildings.

Del Rossi said the only adjustment she made because of the incident was keeping the store closed until 9 a.m. to make certain there were no damages.

“We got a lot of calls, especially from customers, to make sure we were OK,” Del Rossi said. “I had to (assure) them, ‘The shows will go on tonight.’ “

Another business that received concerns from patrons was John Fish Jewelers, next door to Tiffany Couture Cleaners.

“We had a lot of people calling and checking on us,” said Elaine Fish, co-owner of the business, which has been in the complex since 1976. “(The fire) hasn’t affected us much business-wise. Everything has been business as usual since. I’m grateful we weren’t damaged and our neighbors weren’t damaged.”

Other than Clark County Fire Department officials’ estimates, business owners say the only other property that suffered damage was US K&K Jewelry, a bead shop next door to the former thrift store. May Hu, an employee of US K&K Jewelry, said the only damage to the store was a small amount of water through one of the walls from the firefighters’ attempt to put out the blaze.

Fish and Del Rossi said the visible damage left behind was the only indication of a fire having occured in Commercial Center . Both said that not even the scent of smoke or fire was present once the blaze was contained.

Though the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Fish hopes it does not relate to criminal activity.

“The only thing that concerns me is that (the fire) might have been arson,” Fish said. “I feel that we are quite secure in our location. There are a lot of nice people here.”

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at lcarter@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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