Smoke ruins all merchandise in area business
Owners plan to reopen Sweetwater Trading Co. despite devastating loss from fire
September 20, 1999
Craig — A fire that struck Sweetwater Trading Co. Sept. 4 despite being mostly smoke damaged far more of the business than firefighters originally estimated.
According to owner Sheila Brennise, the fire caused a total loss for the business. All merchandise was damaged by smoke, as well as the drywall on the ceiling.
“The fire was fairly minimal,” Brennise said, “but it smoldered for so long. It was almost a total loss.”
Brennise estimates that 85 percent of the contents of the store $60,000 in retail value were damaged.
In addition, Harvest Christian Bookstore was out of business for five days recovering from $3,000 in damages caused as the smoke escaped from Sweetwater Trading Co. into the bookstore.
Investigators from State Farm Insurance traced the cause of the fire to a faulty wire in the cash register. They took the remains of the nearly-new register to Denver where it will be used as evidence in a lawsuit against its manufacturer. Brennise said she is not sure whether she will participate in the lawsuit. It will depend on how well the insurance company reimburses her for her losses, she said.
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“It’s really bazaar that a cash register could cause so much damage,” she said. “The firemen didn’t even know it was a cash register when they first saw it. It was just a flat metal box.”
Sweetwater Trading Co. just opened in May so the loss was classified as “devastating” by Brennise.
“The stress is the worst part,” she said. “It’s been a real struggle.”
But the fire and the loss don’t mean the end of Sweetwater Trading Co. Brennise said she plans to reopen the store with a few changes, brand new merchandise and an expanded clothing section. She hopes to open by Oct. 9 and plans to celebrate a grand reopening the first of November. She will hold a fire sale for the merchandise damaged by the smoke on Oct. 8 and 9.