Arson fires force businesses to close

Arson fires force businesses to close

EUGENE, Ore. - Marianne Slason was getting ready for her busiest week of the year.

Now all of her merchandise will need to be specially cleaned: someone set a fire that sent smoke through her Santa Clara Smoke Shop.

"Due to the smoke damage, if you touch it, the fingerprints will be permanent on the glass," she said.

The fire started early Monday morning at the Santa Clara Center on River Road. Business owners got the call at 5 a.m. that their livelihoods were in danger.

"We're most worried about our employees," said Dennis Short from Shooter's Pub. "We haven't found out yet if our insurance covers wage loss."

Twelve people will be out of work at Shooter's for the next 2 weeks.

The fire burned the power panels that supply the entire shopping center.

"The electricity to all of the businesses in this complex will have to be restored. all the panels, the meters," he said. "It's going be pretty extensive."

The fire at the shopping center was one of two discovered in close proximity Monday morning. Police said the first fire was sent in a trash bin at the gas station next door to Santa Clara Center. The second fire originated from the recycling bin at Shooter's.

"Fortunately, this building is largely made, on the sides, of cinder block," Detective Steve Williams said. "You know, if you're trying to burn down a business, a cinder block business probably isn't the best one to work on.

"It could have been a lot worse."

Police don't have a suspect or motive at this time.

"Some people just like to watch things burn," Williams said.

The businesses that suffered damage from the fire and smoke will be closed for at least four days, but they said it will take a lot more than a fire to close their doors.

"It would take a whole lot more," Slason said. "We love being here, we service

our locals, our locals love us and we're not going anywhere."