Total loss: Fire causes about $100,000 damage to Mill Street building |

Total loss: Fire causes about $100,000 damage to Mill Street building

Plywood boards shield the burnt-out entrance to Florio’s Olive Oil on Mill Street in Grass Valley. Soot stains reach out along the building’s brick exterior, a remnant of the blaze which destroyed the store Wednesday evening.

Owner Neil Sarchett was shaken by the fire, he said.

“I was still in shock when I left (the scene) last night,” Sarchett, 24, said Thursday. “It didn’t fully set in right away.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said Grass Valley Fire Chief Tony Clarabut.

Grass Valley’s fire department showed up to the 100 block of Mill Street almost immediately after the fire was reported, said Ashley Volz, a clerk at the downtown store Tribal Weaver who first noticed the fire on her walk home.

“I heard the fire alarm beeping and peeked in,” Volz said. “I saw a lot of smoke and some tiny flames on a counter in the store, so I called 9-1-1. By the time I called the flames engulfed the counter.”

Sarchett, who left for the evening, got a call from his alarm company alerting him to the blaze, and he showed up shortly thereafter to see the total loss.

The fire caused about $100,000 in damage to the building, which houses both Florio’s and Swenson’s Outdoors, Clarabut said. Each store lost about $30,000 in merchandise, he added.

Workers at Foothill Mercantile, who share a wall with Florio’s, counted their blessings Thursday.

“We were a little worried,” said Monica Sanford. “You could see the pressure on the glass on their building.”

The thick cement walls separating the Florio’s building from Foothill Mercantile, an early 20th century fire deterrent, were effective, Clarabut said.

Sarchett spent much of Thursday calling distributors to cancel oil purchases, he said. The business recently celebrated its first anniversary.

“I’d like to open up again as soon as possible,” Sarchett said. “I’ve had a lot of community members call me to offer to lend a hand.”

Both businesses were insured and Rosie Doolittle, who owns the building and Swenson’s, hopes to reopen quickly, she said. Her business sustained extensive smoke damage, she said.

“We’ll have to find out about clearing up the damage from the smoke,” Doolittle said. “I’m so thankful the firemen turned out as quickly as they did, they had the fire out in no time.”

Florio’s current boarded-up facade is an ugly mark in downtown. Officials may look to cover the entrance with artwork while the store is rebuilt, said Grass Valley Downtown Association Executive Director Howard Levine.

“He’s a really young, energetic, fun merchant to have downtown,” Levine said. “We need more people like that involved in retail here. We’re looking to see what we can do to get him a space while they rebuild the store.”

City representatives are keen on expediting the repair process, said City Community Planning Director Joe Heckel.

“We’re willing to do whatever we can to assist the owner in getting a building permit,” Heckel said.

City officials are expected to inspect the building today, and early indications are optimistic as to the damage the structure sustained, Heckel said.

“Our initial take is that while the fire did damage the interior, it potentially did not damage the structure itself, which would make repairs much easier,” Heckel said.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530)477-4239.

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