While most of the Goodwill's inventory wasn't burned in the fire, there was a lot of smoke and water damage.
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A Goodwill store in South Jersey is asking for the public's help after a small fire wiped out its entire inventory.
Officials said Thursday the fire is now being investigated as an arson. They have also released images of a person of interest they say is wanted for questioning in the investigation.
Flames broke out inside the store around 1:30 p.m. Monday on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County.
The blaze forced customers outside and activated the sprinkler system.
"It was a very busy time for us," said Mark Boyd, CEO of Goodwill of Southern N.J. and Philadelphia. "The store was full. It was just a horrible experience."
No customers were hurt and the fire was out quickly, but the store is now closed for cleanup and repairs.
"We have Servpro here trying to dry up the place, figure out what we're doing next, and start the cleaning process," said store manager Edwin Maldonado.
While most of the store's inventory wasn't burned in the fire, there was a lot of smoke and water damage.
Goodwill officials say the items can't be sold. Coats, clothes, housewares, and shoes now have to be tossed.
"Losing the inventory inside the store is devastating to us," said Boyd. "January and February are always a low point in our donation flow. And to lose this volume of inventory is just awful."
Sales made at Goodwill stores help fund local career and training programs for people in need.
While the Egg Harbor Township store is closed, the donation center around the back is still open.
Goodwill officials are hoping people will step up and donate whatever they can. Winter clothes are especially in demand.
People can also donate to other Goodwill locations.
Employees hope they'll be able to welcome customers back soon.
"You know, when I see their faces light up when they get those bargains, it really is like a community. It's like a neighborhood. I don't look at it as a store," said Maldonado.
The investigation is ongoing.