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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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December 10, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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December 10, 2014
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 lIB What will on Qui pen to the n James Wilson Staff Writer jwilson@plumasnews.com n Dec. 15, 2013, a fire swept through Quincy's downtown, destroying three buildings and affecting multiple businesses. The fu'e was the largest Quincy had seen since 1934, when a fire destroyed nearly the entire block on Main Street across from the courthouse.' Initially, the buildings' owners hoped to start rebuilding by spring 2014. Now, nearly one year after the fire, Quincy is left with a hole in its downtown, a fenced-off empty lot, and residents wondering if construction will ever happen. The fire The f'n'e completely burned through Pizza Factory, Quincy Thrift, High Sierra Vapor -- which had recently opened -- and the building that previously housed Great Northern Hair Co. The latter building was being renovate l by owners Tommy and Carol Miles to use for their business, Cornerstone Learning. The other buildings were owned by brothers Sonny and Mo Khalid, who recently moved to the area from Sacramento. Neighboring Jenelli's Bakery, Main Street Artists Gallery and, to a lesser degree, the Courtyard Suites were also damaged by smoke and the water used to put out the fire. Cause In the direct aftermath of the fire, various theories circulated as to its cause. People were reportedly on the roof the night the blaze started, and some suspected they may have started it either intentionally or accidentally. Other theories involved electrical malfunction and a heater left unattended. Mark Rotlisburger from Cal Fire in Susanville arrived at the scene early to begin an investigation. After the investigation, the cause was deemed inconclusive. "It's still undetermined at this time," commented Quincy Volunteer Fire Department Chief Robbie Cassou last week. "In the time since the fire, something like eight different investigators from the insurance companies have come up, but it's still inconclusive." Effect on business After the fire, the Khalid brothers moved back to Sacramento. Likewise, the owners of High Sierra Vapor moved to southern California. Cornerstone Learning had not yet moved into its new location, so the Mileses were able to continue conducting business as usual in their old location. Traci Turner, the owner of Quincy Thrift, started over In the direct aftermath of the fire that swept through downtown Quincy on Dec. 15, 2013, firefighters survey the damage done. Nearly one year later, the site of the fire is barren and surrounded by a chain-link fence. File photo An aerial view of downtown Quincy, taken shortly after last December's fire, shows the hole in Quincy's downtown. Photo by Carol Miles "There's been a lot of concern expressed because it appears that there's nothing happening. That's not true. There's a lot going on as far as trying to get the building rebuilt and therehas been since the fire." Tommy Miles Business Owner Workers dig in with an excavator to clear debris out of the Tommy Miles surveys the empty lot where the old Great burned-out site of three buildings in downtown Quincy. Northern building stood before last December's fire. Miles Since debris was removed in early February, no visible plans to rebuild, but is waiting to receive an insurance changes have taken place at the downtown lots. Photo by settlement that will fully pay for the reconstruction. Photo by Tommy Miles James Wilson from scratch at a new location on Main Street across from the post office. "Emotionally, dealing with the loss Of all of it was the hardest part," said Turner. "I had been there going on 12 years. I had very little insurance, but the outpouring of community support helped me open in the new location." Though Turner was able to reopen within three months, business hasn't bounced back to how it was in her old location. "Business is comparable, but def'mitely slower during events and for tourism. This is maybe 60 percent of our space works at Quincy Drug, a smaller space, so I don't have to now using over 90 percent, business from foot traffic the numbers of people coming As time went on, it became dropped nearly 40 percent in at all." more and more OK." since the fire. Jeanne Brovelli, owner of Still, Brovelli has seen a "People would grab a pizza Jenelli's Bakery, was finally decline in business in the last from Pizza Factory and would able to reopen April 2. Brovelli year. wander across the street and had to replace the floors due to "We've definitely seen a shop here and at other water and smoke damage, and difference with the foot traffic, businesses around here," said throw out almost all of her I think all the businesses in Jennings. "You just keep ingredients. One bright side to this area have seen that. The trying and working at it." closing her doors for nearly Pizza Factory and thethrift four months, said Brovelli, store used to bring people Rebuilding plans was the chance to reorganize downtown." The Khalid brothers and the the shop to her liking. Even businesses in the Mileses both stated they hope "When we came back we put destruction's periphery were to rebuild, but are currently at lots of thought into that," said affected by the fire. According the mercy of their insurance Brovelli. "We went from using to Jo Ann Jennings, who companies. "Most of it is the subject of legal action, which I can't discuss," said Tommy Miles. "We do have a plan. Our intention since the day of the fn'e is to rebuild." Miles stated that though he hopes to begin reconstruction this spring, he won't begin until he has the funds to complete the building. "We don't want to get stuck with a half-built building or stick the community with one," said Miles. "We're going to get the county permits now, but we won't start until we're fully ready." The Mileses have a commercial building design with the same features as the prevj0us building-- single. story and 3,200 square feet. The facade on the design is taller than the previous building's and will fit with the architectural style of other buildings on the street. "There's been a lot of concern expressed because it appears that there's nothing happening," said Miles. "That's not true. There's a lot going on as far as trying to get the building rebuilt and there has been since the fire." In an interview with Feather Publishing last week, Sonny Khalid said he and his brother hope to rebuild, but it all depends on whether or not he receives enough money from his insurance company for construction. "At this point, it's hard to tell," said Khalid. "Our insurance denied our claim, but I'm still fighting it. The chances of rebuilding are about 50-50 right now." Khalid said the amount his insurance company offered as a settlement is roughly $400,000 less than what it would cost to rebuild the two buildings. He is currently in litigation with the insurance company to obtain the full amount needed. If he loses his battle with the insurance company, Khalid said, he and his brother wiU probably sell the lot. When askedabout a timeframe, Khalid said they will hopefully know in about six months what they will do with the lot. The price of constructing new buildings is substantially higher than the worth of the old buildings that burned. According to Khalid, rebuilding costs for a 5,000-square-foot building were estimated at $160 per square foot, totaling $800,000. Before the f'n'e, Khalid's property was valued at $380200 by the Plumas County Assessor's Office. Now, after the fire, the lot is valued at $100,000. The Mileses' property was valued at $155,000 before the fire and is currently valued at $70,000. "We've appreciated people's patience, generally," said Miles. "Every now and then frustration has been expressed. All I can say is we're doing the best we can."