Norwood Fire Remains Under Investigation

CBS 2 - November 01, 2009

NEW YORK (CBS) - A massive fire in the Bronx destroyed more than a dozen small businesses Saturday.

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, but it's the store owners who may have suffered the worst damage.

"All our money was in this store, all our investment was in this store, and in two, three hours, nothing - that's it," Mahmoud Zaghari, brother of one of those shop owners, said.

Zaghari thinks he's seen his dreams go up in smoke, along with his brother's convenience store. The Palestinian immigrant says it was that business that was financing his MBA courses.

"One of my dreams was to get my masters through this store," Zaghari said. "Now I have nothing."

"I'm suffering, I don't know what I'm going to do," said Mir Mansur, who owns a cell phone store that was damaged.

All along the row of stores, as owners returned to their shops to retrieve important documents, they were asking the same two questions: what would they do, and how could a fire devastate the building just months after an earlier blaze last April had nearly do the same?

"That's my question - how could the same building owner have two fires in one year?" Mansur wondered.

"They were just renovating it, they took the signs down, they were gonna fix everything," Horace Goracito, owner of Betty's Beauty Salon, said. "I don't know what to think."

What makes the fire particularly tough is that many of the store owners do not have insurance, and more than one told CBS 2 that even though they survived the first fire, they're not so sure they can survive the second.

"What happened today…nobody expected," Zaghari said. "That's why we didn't have insurance."

As the city buildings department inspected the structure to see if it was capable of standing, many questions remain, and the store owners want answers.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

CBS 2's John Metaxas contributed to this report.