Thursday, June 25, 2009

Renton after the Fire - community,recovery and gratefulness

First things first - Roy Beeler, Manager of the building that was burnt down in the Renton 5 Alarm Fire 10 days ago, stated it as soon as he could politely stand up and voice it. Rod Stewart, owner of the Country Station Antique Store in the top block of S. Third Street seconded those thoughts when it was his turn. Extreme gratitude and thanks to the Fire and Emergency Dept. of Renton for their incredible help in saving an entire block of buildings. "You saved our businesses - Thank you!"

Last night at the Eagles on Wells Ave.S., the Renton Fire and Emergency Dept. held a meeting to discuss with the community about the 5 Alarm Fire that rocked our downtown nearly 2 weeks ago. Chief Daniels was on hand to lead the talk about what was found that night, why the firemen did what they did, what efforts the city is presently taking and how they are finding ways to get the businesses that were effected back to normal. Putting out the fire is just the first of a long line of steps that take place.

The highlights, you may ask? Kent, Seattle, Tukwila, Auburn and Renton all joined forces to fight this fire - 119 firemen all told. They train together, so they all know the same rules of engagement, follow the same chain of command. Beautiful synergy, no injuries - not one. A fireman dies every three days within the US, Chief Daniels disclosed. We had everyone go home safe, including the building tenants. Wow.

The fire department did make another visit, as I reported two days ago here, to the Harries Building were they found a 5 foot high stack of comics still smouldering. Block Aid and another 1,000 gallons of water were used to treat the situation, as well as stirring the pile of an estimated 30,000 comics. Highly unlikely they will trigger again, but Roy Beeler, Manager of the prior building, will see to it that Howard Wheatly of The Comic Den recovers whatever else he might salvage from the pile and then have it removed ASAP. That was relieving news to all of the businesses located nearby. Hats off to Deb of Girlfriend's Antiques for bringing this issue to The Picarron attention.

In any emergency, we were told, there are 5 phases.

*Prevention *Preparedness * Response * Recovery * Mitigation

Renton is in different phases of recovery right now. Some businesses, like Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes, Renton Laptop Shop and The Comic Den are already back open and serving customers. A-1 Vacs & Locks is working with the city to expedite his permits, has secured a location next to Naan & Curry and will hopefully be up and running soon. The CK Nail Spa and Salon was hit hard with water damage and is still under major repair.

Our community really comes together in a crisis, reiterated Jennifer Davis Hayes of the Renton's Community & Economic Development. As Bill Flora,Deputy Chief - Fire Marshall, reminded us all, the Police Dept., Public Works Dept, Community & Economic Development all played crucial roles in expediting the safe fighting of the fire that Friday night and the recovery after the fire. PLUS our lovely Renton people - who have given of their hearts and their efforts to those afflicted by loss through this fire, every step of the way.

The good news is that the building has been purchased by Howard Ho, owner of the adjacent building housing the Common Ground and business developer. The city, Jennifer Davis Hayes stated, will be watching closely to see that things move along in a timely fashion where the building is concerned. The city had already sent the previous owner, Bob Delancey, a 30 days to demolish or redo letter. But word on the street is that Howard Ho has wanted to purchase that building for sometime and has every intention of rebuilding.

Special thanks to the Renton Fire and Emergency Department for being on hand for this meeting - Renton Fire Chief I. David Daniels, Bill Flora Deputy Chief -Fire Marshall, Mark Peterson Deputy Fire Chief of Operations, Joan Montegary Asst. to the Fire Chief, Jennifer Davis Hayes of the Community & Economic Development, Kevin Hoult of the Renton Small Business Development Center.
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