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Owner of Store Lost in Strip Mall Fire: 'I Can't Say What Happens Next'

By DNAinfo Staff on November 16, 2013 11:46am

 Officials believe the fire at 3106 W. Peterson Avenue was caused by propane torches used by roofers, who left the scene when the first began at 5:30 p.m. and hadn't returned,  said fire department spokesman Larry Langford.
Aftermath of strip mall fire
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WEST RIDGE — Sammy Dajani, owner of Mid America Furniture, loved her furniture business like her three children.

"I've lost something I've built for 25 years. It's in ashes," Dajani said. "I spent 12 hours every day here. We were trying for another 25 years."

The furniture store was one of five businesses completely destroyed in a four-alarm fire that destroyed a strip mall at 3106 W. Peterson Avenue.

The building also houses a few other businesses that avoided the worst of the flames, though fire officials say the building will eventually have to come down.

Officials determined the fire was caused by roofers using propane torches. The roofers left the scene when the fire began at 5:30 p.m. and never returned, said fire department spokesman Larry Langford.

Langford said the fire department would like to question the roofers and have asked police to help find them.

The police department's Bomb and Arson unit is looking for the roofers, but at the moment it is a non-criminal investigation, said Officer Janel Sedevic, a police spokeswoman.

More than 200 firefighters took on the blaze that was struck out at 6 p.m. Friday, but crews worked throughout the night to control smoldering hotspots.

On Saturday morning, several people looked on at the remains of the building, including Dajani and her husband, who arrived the same time they would've had they been able to open their business for the day.

The five businesses completely lost in the fire were For Eyes Optical, Rainbow Nails, Mid American Furniture, American Mattress, and SuperCuts.

Dajani said she we would take her new situation "day-to-day" and hasn't been able to determine yet if she could rebuild a business she has loved as much as her three children at another location.

"I can't say what will happen next," Dajani said.