Community groups are vowing to rally around the owners of businesses in a Hyde Park strip mall following a devastating fire.
Fire inspectors are still investigating to determine the cause of Thursday’s blaze. A damage estimate has not yet been released but the blaze tore through the entire building.
“I know that the Hyde Park Business Association will be working with our other community groups to do what we can to help support them …it’s tragic,” said Donna Szpakowski, President of the Hyde Park Business Association.
The plaza is home to as many as 14 businesses, including Porcino restaurant, a Benjamin Moore store, D&S Pianos, and Elation Spa.
Employees at Porcino told AM980 the fire started outside the restaurant and then spread. Police confirmed that the fire originated in the rear of the restaurant. A spokesperson confirmed no one was hurt as a result of the blaze.
Ward 7 Councillor Josh Morgan was at the scene and spoke with authorities and the Hyde Park Business Association about the situation.
“Responding to the needs of the business community is where I and our community can be most effective,” Morgan said. “Speculating on the cause of the fire is not a good use of our time and the fire officials will report to the community when they know.”
Szpakowski says there’s going to be a lot of work ahead to help business owners recover both mentally and financially.
“These businesses have gotten through two major construction cycles,” said Szpakowski. “This has got to be devastating for themselves as business owners, their families…this is huge.”
Morgan explained that he and officials are working on plans to help the business owners in the short to long-term.
He stated that crisis counselling and constant communication to meet the immediate needs of those affected should be the community’s first step in providing assistance.
“Some people may be able to access their businesses off-site without a physical location,” Morgan said. “When the reconstruction and the relocation is done, working hard to make sure these businesses are supported in the community (will help) to get them back on their feet.”
Morgan stated that the impact is not only on the business owners, but also the community that relied on the services the businesses provided.
“I met with a little girl while the fire was going on, and D&S Pianos has the music education section. She was so sad that she will not be able to do her music lessons next week,” Morgan said.
Police blocked off Hyde Park Rd. between Fanshawe Park Rd. and Gainsborough Rd. for several hours Thursday.