All that remained from the Happy Daze Hookuh Lounge and Fashions Hair Design was a pile of burned rumble after a fire tore through the building Monday night.
Neighbors said they first noticed smoke coming from the building at about 8:45 p.m. Monday. Soon after, the building, which was home to the two long-time Alice businesses in the 200 block of Woodlawn St., was fully engulfed in flames.
Firemen battled the intense blaze well into the night. Some homes near the fire had to be evacuated because of the thick smoke billowing from the fire. Alice police said no injuries were reported. Police did have to block off several streets to hold back curious onlookers who flocked to the blaze. A strong breeze also covered much of the north side of the city in smoke during the fire.
Because the support beams in the building were destroyed, heavy equipment was used to tear down the walls of the building to prevent an unexpected collapse.
Sandy Ramos, who owned Fashions Hair Design and the entire building, said the fire was devastating, but the support she and Frank and Melinda Trejo, owners of Happy Daze Hookah Lounge, have received has been uplifting.
“There’s been so much support and love from the community,” she said. “We’ve had so many people willing in help in any way. We’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support of people. We’ve also had other beauty shops call and ask if there is anything they can do to help.”
Ramos said Fashions Hair Design first opened in 1988 at another location. It moved to Woodlawn Street in 1991. For now, Ramos said the plan is to focus on clean up. She said she also plans to rebuild at the same location.
As of Tuesday morning, several small businesses in town began to organize a benefit fundraiser for the two businesses.
Alice Fire Chief Patrick Thomas said the cause of the fire remains unknown. Investigators were interviewing several witnesses who were in the vicinity of the building when the fire began. Police are also viewing surveillance footage from nearby businesses.
“It’s going to be difficult to determine a cause because there isn’t much left,” Thomas said. “We’re interviewing anyone we can and talking to the business owners about the history of the building, but right now we don’t have a cause.”