The fire began just before 12:20 a.m. Tuesday and quickly consumed several structures along the 6000 block of Woodland Avenue, causing the partial collapse of one of the buildings there.
Joyce Pittman was celebrating 28 years of business at Elegant Lady Boutique. Now she'll have to pick up the pieces after this devastating blaze.
She wasn't home at her apartment upstairs when the fire began. Her church, Mother Bethel AME, is taking up a collection for her since she says her insurance had lapsed.
"I think everything's a loss," Pittman said. "My whole top of the house is gone. I guess it's gone into my merchandise too."
The four buildings to the right of the Elegant Lady Boutique are gutted. It is in one of those buildings, all owned by the same person, where investigators believe the blaze began. Downstairs are four separate businesses, including a nail salon and a cell phone store, but upstairs the spaces were all connected, allowing the flames to spread quickly.
Acting Battalion Chief Mike Goodwin explains, "[Firefighters] had a hard time determining where the fire was. The second floor of all four properties was converted into one floor - connected by doors with no firewall in-between."
Storeowners and patrons alike say this is the time of year when sales usually pick up - yet another hit for business on top of this destructive fire.
Sylvia Yarbrogh, a patron of the stores, says, "I just feel sorry for the owners and renters because this is the time that everyone tries to make money. For this to happen at this time is real terrible."
Betty Familia from Betty's Salon, which was also damaged in the fire, tells Action News, "It may take a while but I'll be working in my house for now until they fix the building."
ATF and the Fire Marshal were on the scene Tuesday morning. found safe.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.