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Recovery drags on for fire-damaged businesses

August 20, 2013|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com
  • Nick Ohanian, manager of One Price Cleaners, surveys damage from an August 13 fire at a strip mall in the 1500 block of North San Fernando Boulevard in Burbank.
Nick Ohanian, manager of One Price Cleaners, surveys… (Joe Piasecki )

A blaze at a Burbank strip mall last week took firefighters less than half an hour to extinguish, but recovery efforts could drag on for months for some business owners.

The fire that ripped through Tina’s Nails and Spa shortly after 4 a.m. on Aug. 13 caused fire or smoke damage to all nine of the business’ neighbors in the complex in the 1500 block of San Fernando Boulevard, Burbank Fire Capt. Peter Hendrickson said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, he said.

Initially estimated at $200,000, damage to the structure could wind up costing more than twice as much to repair, said nail salon owner Athena Boulgarides, who is awaiting final contractor and insurance estimates.

“Right now, we’re just grateful nobody got hurt,” she said.

Damages to the strip mall’s tenants varied according to their distance from the fire-gutted nail salon, located near the middle of the complex.

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Flames and smoke that Hendrickson said traveled through a common attic above store ceilings and charred the structure’s roof appeared to hit hardest at a dry cleaner and a children’s clothing store that shared common walls with the salon.

Nick Ohanian, manager of the family-owned One Price Cleaners, estimated more than $300,000 in damage to his store and its expensive cleaning equipment.

But Ohanian said the businesses were lucky that up to 120 gallons of highly flammable cleaning solvent inside dry-cleaning machines didn’t ignite. His business “would have exploded,” Ohanian said.

Rather than wait for repairs that could take up to six months, Ohanian said the dry-cleaning business may relocate nearby. In the meantime, smoke-saturated clothes will be sent to another cleaner and returned to owners in a couple of weeks, he said.

Yana Rostomyan, who owns the children’s clothing retailer Lil Jewel’s, said she may relocate temporarily after insurance adjusters also warned her it could take half a year before a return to business as usual.

Rostomyan said she lost her entire inventory to fire or smoke damage.

“All my whites are brown,” she said, adding that much of it may not be covered by insurance.

Also shuttered this week were the Sun Moon Garden restaurant, Guido’s Pizza and Pasta, an unmarked office space, a telephone wholesale office and Zeina’s Hair Town.

Deluxe Pastries and Cakes — at the strip mall’s northwest corner, along Andover Drive — was forced to throw out all of its baked goods due to smoke damage, but is expected to reopen next week, owner Alina Harutyunyon said.

Next door, the Smokers Delight tobacco shop reopened last week after scrubbing black soot from shelves and glass display cases, according to workers.

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Follow Joe Piasecki on Twitter: @JoePiasecki.

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