Fire victim: Rebuilding may take a long while |

Fire victim: Rebuilding may take a long while

Rebuilding a historic building like the one that burned Wednesday morning in downtown Nevada City could take a couple of years, if one Grass Valley business owner’s similar experience is any precedent.

Cheryl Dorville’s turn-of-the-century building across from Grass Valley City Hall burned down on March 26, 1991.

Two years, and many dealings with an insurance company and city officials later, Dorville reopened her business, Cheryl’s Clothes Closet, at 128 E. Main St.

As she was preparing to open that Tuesday morning, Dorville heard “a popping sound on the other side of the wall.”

When she opened the door to the space rented to an old-time photography business, “it was like pouring gas on the fire,” she recalled.

Flames fanned out along the wall, and Dorville ran to get the keys to the front door. “It was like I was moving in slow motion,” she said.

As soon as she reached the other side of Main Street, the windows and doors blew out of the building.

“I was lucky,” she said.

Investigators determined that an electrical short circuit in a wrapping machine in the photo shop caused the fire, which “festered all night” in a 6-foot space between the ceiling and the upper floor, Dorville said.

Dorville said the insurance company eventually paid in three installments to make sure that the building would be rebuilt – but not until she threatened to bring in an attorney.

Dorville said the big payoff from having her building burn down was “finding out who my friends were” and “having customers call offering to feed me.”

She credited fellow downtown business owner Marie Johnson, owner of Foothill Flowers, with encouraging her along the way.

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