Fremont antique store suffers fire, mold; Owners frustrated with insurance

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 10:27 AM CDT
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A candle is to blame for a fire that took the life of a woman in a downtown Fremont apartment last month. Numerous tenants have been displaced and three businesses severely damaged, but frustrated owners of one store said they were kept from cleaning up for far too long.

May 23rd an apartment fire two floors up left the owners of Riff Raff Relics feeling down.

“And we are so sorry that a lady passed away and that 17 tenants lost their home,” said owner Sara Turay.

The store owners say they lost an opportunity to save most of their inventory immediately after the fire.

“Start packing and cleaning everything of this and we got chased out of the building because the landlord is like you can’t be in there my insurance company says no one is allowed,” said Turay.

So, the store closed tight for three weeks in 90-degree temperatures. Many vintage items that only got wet were not allowed to be pulled out and dried. They’re now covered with mold and can’t be sold.

Brian Schultz the store co-owner said, “We don’t want someone calling Mr. Mcknight up and saying we bought an item from Riff Raff Relics and now we’re all sick with mold.”

The president of North Star Insurance says the entire building was secured to preserve the scene and it’s a complicated claim because tenants have different insurance providers. Bringing in investigators from numerous companies took until June 16th with the building released last Friday.

The fire exposed a business hazard for the vintage craft store. Even though they’ve been open barely eight months, they discovered their insurance is outdated.

The store’s insurance paid $20,000 but owners estimate inventory lost at three times that amount.

“We were good at the beginning, but we should have upped it as we went on. We’re new business owners, we’re entrepreneurs we’re learning as we go,” said Turay.

So many collectibles collected over six years will end up in a landfill, but the couple hasn’t closed the door on starting over.

North Star Insurance says it is working quickly to get settlement payment made to the building owner so rebuilding can begin. The landlord declined to go on camera but says he’s refunded tenant security deposits to help them get back on their feet.