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Eastland business owners get first look inside after shopping center fire

Eastland fire victims hoping to be back in business soon

EASTLAND, Texas - Business owners say the cost of the Shady Oaks Shopping Center fire in Eastland will be astronomical.

The building alone will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – and then there's equipment and inventory for each business.

Thursday, a few business owners got their first look inside their stores to survey the damage. Natures Health Shop owner David Beaudrie was one of them.

"Most of the ceiling's on the floor. It's quite a mess," said Beaudrie, as he looked around the shop.  

Beaudrie said because he didn't have insurance, it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace his inventory. The Texas Department of Health was called in to look through items in Beaudrie's store and see if anything could be saved.

"Sounds like a lot of it's going to end up going in the dumpster, but we'll just have to see how it all works out here," Beaudrie said.  

Eastland Fire Chief Phillip Arther said the State Fire Marshal is still working to determine where the fire started.

"What we're trying to do is define the actual source of ignition, where it got hot," Arther.  

Arther said what they do know is that it wasn't what the owner of Playoff Sports thought it was.

"The baby bottle being put in the microwave did not cause anything," Arther said. "The microwave did not fail. The microwave actually wouldn't even come on when they tried to heat the bottle."

Arther said there's no damage estimate yet, but it will be several hundred thousand dollars – at least.

"It's a bad situation in a small community," Arther said. "It's displaced a lot of workers and affects a lot of lives. So we're trying to pick up as quick as we can."

Fire investigators are expected to allow the rest of the business owners into the building later Thursday night or Friday.

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