Massive fire destroys several businesses overnight

Published: Nov. 11, 2017 at 2:26 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2017 at 7:36 PM EST
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(Source: Chesterfield Police)
(Source: Chesterfield Police)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Flames plowed through a Pizza Hut and several locally owned, family operated businesses Saturday. Chesterfield fire crews responded to the scene on Genito around 2 a.m.

The property manager, Rich Johnson, woke up to a call about the now-leveled structure.

"I got out of bed and drove over here as quickly as practical," Johnson said.

Johnson says there is about 8,000 square feet of impacted property.

"The 4,000 to 5,000 on this end is a total loss. As you can see, it's going to have to be scrapped right down to the slab," he said.

Thankfully, no one was inside the restaurants or dry cleaners at the time.

The damage floored would-be customers. Many of them stopped to take photos.

"At least six stopped by to give well wishes," Johnson said.

"It's just very sad. I hope they'll rebuild," Jody Miller said. She stopped by to pick up her son's dry cleaning.

"He has an early morning flight out of Richmond. He's going to be gone all week for a business trip. But all of his clothes were in Joy's Dry Cleaners," she said.

Now all that's left of the cleaners is a sign with an emergency contact number.

"I'm very concerned for him but there's nothing I can do to help, and I'm really sorry for the people and Joy. They're lovely people. They do a great job," Miller said. The other buildings were a lice removal service, a Pizza Hut, and a Chinese restaurant.

The only sign of a food establishment is the few charred aluminum cans shining in the rubble.

Crews returned to the scene Saturday afternoon to start the cleanup process, which revealed just how close the businesses are to one another.

There is also a BP and a Shell gas station just steps away from the fire. Johnson says he's grateful the fire was contained to the one area, but it could take at least six months before the businesses are back up and running.

"Our job as landlord is to get these businesses back up and running as soon as humanly possible, Johnson said.

The fire department is still working to determine what caused the fire.

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