Small businesses pick up pieces after massive office fire

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A day after a massive fire tore through a business complex in DeKalb County, several small businesses and non-profit agencies started the process of cleaning up and starting over again.

Thick, black smoke could be seen for miles around the Kensington Office Park located at 4151 Memorial Drive near Kensington Road. Flames were shooting up through the roof of the 2-story structure as firefighters arrived at the scene around 5 p.m. Thursday.

Friday morning, the tenants of that complex arrived to find out what they could salvage and try to start to figure what is next for them.

"I mean, when we got here and saw the devastation in person, there are no words for it," said business owner Imani Evans Baskin.

Baskin, who runs a non-profit center for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, was one of those displaced by the fire.

"We do a lot of one-on-one counseling, a lot of group support work, this is devastating for us," said Baskins.

Baskin considers herself among the luckier ones. Her center was on the ground floor. Many of her belongings can be saved but not all of them.

"I went in early to see my client files were swimming in water and we can't recover that, it's devastating," she said.

Water was still dripping from the ceiling as her team worked hard to recover what they could.

"We are thankful no one got hurt. We are praying for the people above us, the whole upstairs was demolished, so we are mindful that we are very blessed," said Dawn Baskin, Women Healing Women Inc.

The office building was far from empty. Among the tenants were several government agencies, a recording studio, and a tax service. All these local, small businesses have the hard task of rebuilding.

"The main point to see if I can relocate them as quickly as possible. Thankfully, I have some spaces in the remaining building and hopefully we can have them, a majority of them, up and running as quickly as possible," said property owner Yossi Kagan. "We've been growing lately. Just this week, some amazing things have been happening. Now, I don't know what the recovery is going to be."

Baskins said she did not have renter's insurance, but her center is all about faith, and perseverance. She said she's going to rely on both for a new beginning.

"Now is the time to see, what you teach, does it line up with what you believe? So, here is that time. My name is Imani, it means faith, so I am real clear that is how we will get on the other side of this," said Baskins.

No one was injured in the blaze.

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