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Chai Market owner on Hospitality Inn fire: "This destroyed our dream"

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) -- Sam Boksrel has owned and operated the Chai Market for three years. But Tuesday, his whole livelihood went up in flames.

Birmingham Fire and Rescue tells CBS 42 a fire was intentionally started in the Hospitality Inn next door. Smoke and flames engulfed the street and destroyed five buildings, including Chai Market.

"I’m not feeling well because this destroyed our dream," says Boksrel. 

Boksrel says that his business was open when the fire started.

"The smell came out outside, and we looked outside and saw really what has happened," explains Boksrel. "So we got out. And everything’s gone."

Glass and ashy remains covered the sidewalk for much of Wednesday. Inside, the only recognizable items are some charred candies and a scorched refrigerator. 

But Chai Market has a base of loyal customers, like Sundhu Barajuli, who was there earlier in the week. 

"It’s really really sad to see this place just come down to ashes," says Barajuli. "It’s really sad."

"This is their life and they put their time and their savings into this and so I really feel very badly for them," says Patrick Helmick, who would frequent Chai Market a few times a month.

While clean-up crews are working to sweep up the debris, Boksrel is planning to pick up the pieces. 

"We will start again," says Boksrel. "We are looking nearby for any place. And maybe I will get anything anywhere."

Birmingham Fire and Rescue says one firefighter was sent to the hospital Tuesday after inhaling too much smoke -- the only injury related to the fire. Officials tell CBS 42 that the firefighter has been released from UAB Hospital and is expected to return to work soon. 


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