DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — In spite of a major fire on Washington Avenue on Friday, Sept. 10, a number of businesses on the far side of the Washington Square Mall will be open Sunday. The mall was closed Saturday.
The Washington Square 7 movie theater will be open Sunday, as will the Chinese Dragon, Pizza Hut, and Don Pablo's Family Mexican Restaurant, according to Dawn Livdahl, general manager of the Washington Square Mall. “They suffered minimal damage,” she said.
There will also be 4 p.m. yoga as usual at 180 Balance yoga studio on Sunday, she said.
As for the rest of the mall, La Barista will be open on Tuesday, as usual, since it is currently closed Sundays and Mondays. Forever Summer tanning salon will be open Monday, Livdahl said. Other businesses will reopen as soon as they can.
Firefighters from Detroit Lakes and surrounding communities spent several hours on Friday battling a fire that spewed thick smoke and required two ladder trucks and about 360,000 gallons of water to put out.
On Saturday, “cleanup efforts continue, with mitigating the water and smoke damage — primarily smoke damage,” Livdahl said.
“Each of our clothing stores are in contact with ServiceMaster to do whatever needs to be done in their business,” she added. “I’m not sure when the clothing stores will open again. Glik's had the most damage.”
With luck, Glik’s can reopen in four to six weeks, she said. The other clothing stores, including Leela & Lavender and Maurice’s, will have to wait to see when they can reopen.
At Leela & Lavender, manager Shannon Johnson and owners Jill Shea and Laura Polanski were taking stock of the situation on Saturday.
“We look pretty good in here,” Johnson said. “There wasn’t much water in here and we were able to mop it up.”
The store is fortunate to have glass doors leading into the mall, rather than a security gate like some other stores, because the glass doors kept a lot of the smoke out, Johnson said.
As for the damages, “it’s all being evaluated, today is evaluation day,” at the mall, she said.
The fire itself was contained to a building adjacent to the mall that holds Mattson’s Barbershop and the Pink Buffalo antiques and collectables on the ground floor and has two apartment units above. Nobody was hurt in the fire, but there was a lot of damage to that building. “I’m not sure that building is going to be salvageable,” Johnson said. The fire started in one of the apartments, according to Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Ryan Swanson.
The mall has insurance and individual retailers have their own insurance, but the mall is coordinating the cleanup effort through ServiceMaster, she said. “ServiceMaster will air it (the store) out, they’re getting fans and ozone machines in here,” Johnson said. The process is expected to take at least four days at Leela & Lavender.
“We set it up with ServiceMaster — each store separately decides what to do,” she added. “The other stores are sitting a little differently.” A woman at another clothing store declined to comment on Saturday.
ServiceMaster is bringing in a number of fans, ozone cleaners and hydroxyl portable air purifiers for the mall cleanup. “The air machines need to run 48 to 72 hours for maximum effectiveness,” Livdahl said.
“The big thing is we are so lucky, with the quick thinking and action of the firefighters, the fire did not get out of hand,” Livdahl added. “It sure could have been a different story this morning. Hats off to good decision-making and getting the fire under control.”
The Washington Square Mall is a mix of older buildings on Washington Avenue and new construction further back. Had the building that caught fire been part of the mall, the end result might have been different. “All of our buildings are sprinkled or have dry fire suppression systems," Livdahl noted.
Saturday was damage-assessment day for the mall and for individual businesses, Livdahl said. “The mall insures the building, and each business insures its contents and improvements to its space,” she said. “I’m just trying to do the right thing and get everything ready and open for business.”
She thanked businesses and residents who provided food and water to first responders during the fire, and thanked area business owners who stepped up and offered to help mall businesses with everything from cooking space to salon space to retail space.
“Our heartfelt thanks to these people,” she said. “That’s what makes Detroit Lakes what it is.”
Livdahl said the state fire marshal’s office told her the blaze would likely be ruled accidental, but had not yet established the cause of the fire.