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Fire leaves Palisades Park, N.J. business owners distraught

July 28, 2014
The remnants of a commercial building in Palisades Park, New Jersey, after a July 23 fire.

The remnants of a commercial building in Palisades Park, New Jersey, after a July 23 fire.

Business owners based in a commercial building in Palisades Park, New Jersey, are finding themselves at a loss after a July 23 fire that burned down the building containing seven Korean businesses.

The fire at the two-story building, located on 318 Bergen Boulevard, started at about 6:08 a.m. on the second floor, which housed a law firm and title agency. It then spread to the first floor, where a skin care shop, a design shop, event planning services, social services, an advertising firm and a delivery service — all Korean-owned — saw damage from both the fire and water from the more-than-100 firefighters who arrived at the scene.

Only the skin care shop is left standing in the midst of debris. A real estate agency that had been in the building has decided to move to an Englewood Cliffs location; so has the law firm, which is currently looking for a new office space.

The majority of the Korean businesses, however, had not been under insurance or had been covered under the minimum amount. They are now facing a waiting period of one year and six months before construction on a new building can be completed.

“That’s too long, so at the moment we’ve fallen into despair,” said Sarah Hong, 56, owner of the skin care shop. “Because of the power outage, we can’t even check to see if the fixtures in the shop are still working.”

Hong said insurance will cover $30,000 of the $200,000 she’s looking at in total damages.

Other business owners came out with Hong to assess the damage and to see if they could salvage items but returned home empty-handed.

No one was in the building at the time of the fire, the cause of which is under investigation, local fire officials said.

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