NORCROS, Ga. - It’s a long road of recovery for some Gwinnett County business owners after a fire rips through a strip mall.
For anyone riding down South Norcross Tucker Road, it’s hard to miss the charred chaos where businesses once stood.
"I got a call from one of the tenants to see if my parents were ok because they are usually here really late at night. I asked her what happened and she said ‘don’t you know. The building burned down," Jintana Ortiz.
Ortiz’s family owns the Siamese Basil Thai Restaurant. Many said the restaurant has been a staple in the community since 1994.
"It is very bittersweet in here in the back of the restaurant we have crayon drawings from when we were younger. To come in here and there’s no AC, the produce is gone, it smells like ashes. It’s like everything we’ve had this entire time is gone. We have nothing to take with us. To put a value on this to try and sell we can’t do that because it’s compromised because of the fire," Ortiz said.
Firefighters are working to learn how the fire started but at least two of the businesses, Taueria La Fragua and Eastern Groceries, were totally destroyed.
"They can’t open one unit in an entire plaza that’s been burned down and condemned," Ortiz said.
While the outside looks untouched the damage on the inside prevents Ortiz and her family from reopening.
"Here it looks like just the tiles out but what we are told from the fire marshal that some beams are out because of the fire so it’s not just sticking insulation in there to bandage it up it’s the structural integrity," Ortiz said.
This comes at a time where the family was already struggling to stay open during the pandemic.
"A lot of our business gone because we aren’t doing dining anymore and we don’t have half the business we use to have. It’s very tough," Ortiz said.
Ortiz believes arson might be to blame and if so, she hopes whoever is responsible is caught.
"You not only destroyed the businesses but you destroyed people’s legacies," Ortiz said.
Anyone who knows anything about this fire that could help investigations come forward.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to help rebuild the business. Click here to help.
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