September 3, 2004
When Yen Pratt arrived to open her Mesa nail salon Thursday morning, she saw right away there had been a fire.
An "i" in her Tip Top Nails sign was gone and the peak of the roof above it was charred. She thought she had been lucky — until she walked inside.
"It’s 100 percent gone," Pratt said as she sifted through a soggy mess searching for insurance and other documents. "It made me cry."
Nearly 60 Mesa firefighters raced to 1919 W. Main Street around 1 a.m. Thursday after getting reports of a shopping center on fire.
When they arrived, they found Tip Top Nails on fire and spent the next several minutes trying to control the blaze and prevent it from spreading to the rest of the shopping center.
In the end, the salon was gutted and four other shops had water and smoke damage, said Mesa deputy fire chief Mary Cameli. Damage was estimated at $100,000.
It appears the fire started in the sign and spread to the attic, Cameli said.
Pratt, who bought the salon four years ago, said she expects to reopen in about two months.
She’ll spend the time with her grown children in California, but she fears her three nail technicians will have to find work elsewhere.
The Mailboxes & More next to the salon will move temporarily to another suite in the center, but the other businesses should be able to stay open, said building manager Vicky Ousley.
Hashen Aoufe, owner of A-N-B Tobacco & Gift, decided to open for business Thursday despite soggy carpets and the smoky smell. Only open five weeks, Aoufe said he was glad much of his merchandise escaped the water.
As it was, a whole wall of tobacco and gifts he put on display Wednesday were ruined.
The firefighters did "very well" in stopping the fire, Aoufe said.