A little more than a day after a fire ripped through a historic building in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon district, the owners of at least two affected businesses in the building that suffered the bulk of the damage said they remain committed to reopening as soon as repairs are complete.
Park Place, a 109-year-old building at 800 N. Charles St., was heavily damaged both from the fire that broke out early Tuesday morning and from the efforts to contain it. The roof collapsed on the building, which in turn buckled portions of floors on the top levels.
Alan Hirsch, co-owner of Donna’s, said the street-level café and coffee bar suffered extensive water damage in the five-alarm blaze, but not much from the actual fire. He said the goal was to reopen the restaurant’s flagship location when repairs were complete to the building.
“There is so much work that has to be done, we’re probably looking in the six- to 12-month range before we could reopen,” Hirsh said. “But, when the building opens, we’ll reopen. It’s a great neighborhood and a great location for us.”
In the interim, he said, insurance would allow him to carry the payroll for the immediate future. He said workers could also help out and fill in any openings at Donna’s other Baltimore-area locations.
Frank E. Dittenhafer II, co-founder of the architecture firm Murphy & Dittenhafer, got his first quick walkthrough of the company’s workspace on Wednesday afternoon.
“There weren’t any surprises, unfortunately,” Dittenhafer said. “It was a total loss.”
He had came down from the firm’s other office in York, Pa., which has absorbed the seven displaced Baltimore employees. Dittenhafer said the firm was founded in Baltimore in 1985 and would have a Baltimore location again.
“We love Mount Vernon and our plan is to re-establish our presence in Baltimore as soon as we can,” Dittenhafer said.
Other offices damaged by the fire include those of Zenith Healthcare Services Inc., Ramer Equities Inc. and the Fund for Educational Excellence. The MyThai and Indigma restaurants also suffered heavy damages in the fire.
The Helmand Restaurant, at 806 N. Charles St., was not damaged heavily, and owner Qayim Karzai said he planned to open as soon as possible. Karzai said the restaurant had suffered minor water and smoke damage but should be ready to go as soon as power and gas were returned. Thairish restaurant, at 804 N. Charles St., also suffered less damage. The restaurant’s phone remained disconnected Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the head of a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigative team said Wednesday that the origin of Monday’s five-alarm fire in Baltimore’s adult entertainment district has not been determined and the blaze is not being investigated as an arson.
ATF investigator Chris Porreca said the investigators do not have any information to lead them in any one direction at this point.
Baltimore fire officials said Wednesday they asked for federal help to speed the investigation of the fire that damaged a row of buildings in the district known as The Block.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.