Several businesses affected by fire on Business Loop 70

Thursday, November 1, 2012 | 3:12 p.m. CDT; updated 4:58 p.m. CDT, Thursday, November 1, 2012
Condensation clings to window panes in Loop 70 Auto Parts on Thursday on Business Loop 70 in Columbia after the previous night's fire at the store. Columbia Fire Marshal's Division Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer is reflected in the window while talking to media outside the store.

COLUMBIA — When Daniel Huaco heard about a fire Wednesday night near his restaurant on Business Loop 70, his first thought was about the food that had arrived earlier in the day.

The Columbia Fire Department had cut the power to Huaco's restaurant, Carlito's Cabo, putting a shipment of $200 to $300 worth of beef and other supplies in jeopardy.

The Health Department came and checked the food and verified that it was all safe, co-owner Sara Huaco said Thursday morning. 

Carlito's wasn't cleared to open, though. There were parts of the restaurant with heavy smoke damage, and the Huacos are going to have the ventilation system cleaned. 

"If we were to open, we'd have to close the door and the smoke would build up inside again," Daniel Huaco said. 

There is a possibility that the restaurant could open Friday, Daniel Huaco said, but it depends on how soon the smoke clears out.

The fire broke out shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday at Loop 70 Auto Parts, 14 Business Loop 70 E., leaving that store closed on Thursday and causing smoke damage in Carlito's, Ennis Appliance Center and Wireless House.

All four businesses had their doors propped open Thursday to help air circulate to get rid of the smokey smell.

Columbia Fire Marshal Division Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer, who was at the scene Thursday morning, said there was no word on the cause or damage estimates.

Sarah Mahmud and her husband, Ayouses Earkhalil, own the Wireless House, a store that sells cellphones and audio equipment. The smoke only caused cosmetic damage in their store.

"We're going to have to replace all the black tiles on the ceiling and the insulation in the walls and we're going to have someone come and clean the carpets," Mahmud said. 

Gary Ennis, owner of Ennis Appliance Center, said Thursday morning that he was  "kind of" open.

Shaun Ennis, Gary Ennis' nephew, happened to be going back to the store Wednesday night when he saw the smoke. He opened the store and got his dog, Vega, to safety, but couldn't find the three cats that live in the store. 

Shaun and Gary Ennis and firefighters couldn't find the cats Wednesday night, but all three were accounted for Thursday morning.

Gary Ennis didn't realize how much smoke damage there was until he came back in the daylight. When he moved some refrigerators around to survey his appliances, he found perfect white squares on the floor that hadn't been exposed to smoke.

"When you start wiping stuff you get it on your hands, like a film," Gary Ennis said. 

Gary Ennis wasn't sure about his next steps.

"I just don't know," Gary Ennis said. "I've never gone through this before." 

For now, the only thing he can do is wait for his insurer and hope that he has more answers. 

Carlito's will wait to be cleared to reopen, and Wireless House will work on cleaning up.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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