When a colleague told ColorTyme employee Shanna Luck that Roses Express was on fire, she thought it was an April Fool’s joke.
“I thought he was playing with me,” Luck told the Danville Register & Bee in the Ballou Park shopping center parking lot where the fire happened on Friday. “I thought it was a joke.”
But when she saw a fire truck, she got out and realized the situation was serious. There were people everywhere.
“It was just hectic,” she said.
The fire, which destroyed a Roses Express store and damaged three other businesses, was an arson attack, investigators from the Danville Office of the Fire Marshal and the Virginia State Police determined.
A miner set fire to Roses while her mother was shopping, Danville Deputy Fire Marshal Richie Guill said. The miner then reported to employees that they had smelled smoke, he said.
The workers then evacuated the store and tried to put out the fire.
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“Roses employees tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher and they were unsuccessful,” Guill said at the scene Monday morning.
Crews from the Danville Fire Department responded around 5:30 p.m. to the fire reported to Roses Express in the mall located at 653 W. Main St.
CCTV footage and several witnesses assisted investigators, according to a statement from the Danville Fire Department. The minor has been taken into custody and his name and age will not be released.
Roses suffered the most severe damage from the fire, but three other businesses – Dollar General, ColorTyme and Charms – also suffered smoke, heat and water damage.
No injuries were reported.
ColorTyme owner Jeff Tepper said his business was totally damaged and he hopes to reopen at another location in the mall.
“I’ll see if I can rebuild somewhere else,” Tepper said at the scene Monday morning, where his employees were also gathered. “We may be down, but we haven’t come out.”
The store, which Tepper has owned for 22 years, has five employees. The company is a rental company that offers furniture, appliances and other household items.
“I was happy that my employees were doing well,” he said.
Store manager Dennis Reaves agreed.
“The main concern was getting everyone to safety,” Reaves said. “No life was lost. The main thing is that no one died.
The goal now is to assess everything and relaunch the business, he added.
Luck, who has worked at ColorTyme since December 2020, said the fire “happened quickly. It went very quickly. »
“It was crazy,” Luck said.
Reaves hopes the city “will rally around and help these businesses” get back to business.
The parking lot employees said they plan to keep their jobs at ColorTyme.
“We’re one big family,” Tepper said.
Customers with accounts at ColorTyme can call Luck with questions at 434-471-3841, she said.
Photos: Fire at the Parc Ballou Shopping Center in Danville