VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — Two Vestavia Hills businesses were destroyed Monday morning in a fire: Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse and Pure Fitness.
The fire began shortly after 2 a.m. at the Old Towne Plaza. Heavy flames were showing when firefighters arrived on the scene, so they called the Hoover Fire Department for assistance.
Firefighters on the scene said the strip mall did not have a sprinkler system, as it was not a precaution required when the strip mall was built in the 80s. Officials also said the building has a wood frame, which didn’t help. At this time there is no word on where the fire started or what caused it.
Inchiban owner, Manuel Sanz, says they will still be here once the smoke has cleared.
“We’ve been here for 25 years. My brother-in-law started it the first 12 years and then we took over, so it’s a family run business. We’ve always been here” says Sanz.
Fire crews say despite how bad it looks, it could have been worse.
There was no substantial damage to Chuck E. Cheese, which is to the left of Ichiban. Chuck E. Cheese did have sprinklers. They have minor smoke damage to the roof. The manager tells CBS42 that they will hopefully be back open by the weekend.
Other shops like Chet’s Alterations will be closed for up to 10 days from water damage. Pure Fitness just had their grand opening three weeks ago. The owner says her business is a complete loss.
“I was just shocked that something could be taken away that quickly, but also things happen for a reason so maybe this is just a little setback, but there’s so many things we can do now to rebuild and get going,” said Pure Fitness owner Erin Holtz.
Ichiban plans to rebuild as soon as they get the all clear from the property owner–the neighborhood staple isn’t going anywhere.
“We don’t want to lose our employees–you look at the situation, okay we are down, Let’s get back up again,” Sanz said.
One firefighter was taken to the hospital to be checked out after reporting feeling sick. Officials said this is standard procedure.