3 Hamilton businesses looking to rebuild from fire

Hamilton Firefighters battled a blaze early Tuesday morning that erupted in the Rent-A-Center on Dixie Highway in the Hamilton Plaza. Flames were shooting out of the store front when first responders arrived. Two other businesses sustained damage and remained closed Friday. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
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Hamilton Firefighters battled a blaze early Tuesday morning that erupted in the Rent-A-Center on Dixie Highway in the Hamilton Plaza. Flames were shooting out of the store front when first responders arrived. Two other businesses sustained damage and remained closed Friday. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Three businesses are looking to recover from the damages they sustained during a massive fire at the Hamilton Plaza Tuesday that caused more than $500,000 in damages, according to estimates from Hamilton fire officials.

Rent-A-Center sustained the most damage, “completely gutted,” according to Fire Chief Steve Dawson.

Neighboring Family Dollar and Chatti Hair Salon also have been unable to reopen in their plaza locations since the fire, ruled suspicious by fire investigators.

Chatti Hair Salon has used social media in an attempt to stay afloat while investigators and insurance adjusters do their work.

“We are working in different places until we find out what’s going on,” Staci Geurin said. “We are waiting to find out how much of our stuff can be cleaned and used, but we just don’t know what is going to be saved or not.”

Flames were shooting from Rent-A-Center when first responders arrived about 2 a.m. Firefighters had to attack the blaze in a defensive manner, according to Dawson.

Gina Hethcock from Rent-A-Center’s corporate office said that as the investigation continues, the only thing the business can do is cooperate with fire officials.

“Since the investigation is on-going, we are awaiting the fire department’s official determination,” she said. “Whatever the outcome, Rent-A-Center officials will continue to work with local fire and law enforcement in any way we can.”

But for local customers who have accounts with the Dixie location and are curious to find out what is happening on a temporary basis, a solution has been put in place. The west side store, 1228 Main St., will step in to fill the void.

“All customer sales and questions about the east side store will now go to the store on the west side,” a spokesman for the local stores said. “Calls to the east side store are already being automatically transferred to the store on the west side.”

Family Dollar also suffered significant damage from the fire, and Dawson said the Health Department will have to investigate the items in the store as one of the steps needed before the business can reopen.

A spokeswoman from Family Dollar’s corporate office said more information is being gathered no determination has been made of when the store will reopen.

The fire didn’t touch the the Hamilton Plaza Barber Shop, and Glen Mills said his business was open as usual.

“We had a little smoke damage on the outside and some of the smoke that had built up on the windows, but we didn’t have to close down or anything,” Mills said. “We burned a little incense inside to get rid of a little smell from the smoke. We’ve had a lot of people calling wondering if we are open. It has been business as usual.”

Not so for Chatti Hair Salon, which has been in business 10 years but in the plaza for three years, according to Geurin.

“We are doing OK after the fire and just trying to keep everything going,” she explained.

"We check our messages at the salon, but we are using our Facebook page to keep things going … People can still call the salon's number and we will check the messages."

Dawson said the State Fire Marshall’s Office will be brought in to assist his investigators because the blaze was a “pretty significant fire.”

The blaze had been called “suspicious in nature,” according to fire investigator Trevor Snider. He said Friday afternoon the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing and no other details have surfaced.

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