Lots of small generators were humming at Rye Ridge Shopping Center Wednesday as owners and employees were cleaning out stores, replacing ceiling tiles and cutting plywood in the aftermath of an electrical fire that closed about 30 stores exactly one week before.
Tom Bergman, owner of Red Mango along with his sister, had a positive outlook. They didn't lose any inventory or have any smoke damage. They were able to save all the food in the walk-in refrigerator and, after the Health Department inspected, brought it to their store in Larchmont.
"We're up to speed after last year," he said, speaking of Hurricane Sandy and the December snowstorm which caused power outages. His own personal generator was running out front to power the lights during the cleanup.
"We're working to be able to reopen," he said. "Every day they are telling us another stage, but we don't know how long it is going to take," he said.
"This is just a real good opportunity- it is like a spring cleaning in the fall," said Bergman. "It will be as clean as when we opened [a year and a half ago]." "When they open is dependent on when they complete the work that is required and all the inspections are done," said Rye Brook Village Administrator Chris Bradbury. In some cases, he said, such as Red Mango and the restaurants, the stores need health department approval as well.
"Hopefully within the next week they will be open," said Bradbury. "Some stores may be opened earlier than others."
The village administrator said some rewiring is required to restore service and in some cases generators. Some of the generators, he said, are to balance out the air handling systems.
"Some of the larger amount of work in terms of permanent restoration will take a much longer period of time," he said.
A Win Ridge employee who was standing in the parking lot on the lower level of the shopping center overseeing the work being done and answering questions said they were trying to hook up generators to get temporary power to the building fronting on South Ridge Street where the fire occurred in the electrical room on the lower level between Ace Hardware and Club Sandwich on Aug. 21.
Two large 550 KW generators, powered by diesel, were parked in front of the lower level building which are to supply temporary power to all the stores.
"We had to clean every store in and out and the air conditioning ducts and wipe everything down," said the gentleman, who chose not to be identified. "Pretty much everything had to be wiped down because once there is smoke, it gets into everything." Serv-Pro was on site to take care of that work.
In addition, all the ceiling tiles had to be changed in many stores because they got black, he said. Ceiling tiles were being unwrapped Wednesday afternoon in front of Family Discount on the upper level of the shopping center.
The Win Ridge employee said the fire destroyed the main electrical panel for the building and "the underground wires all the way around out to the pole in the street."
In front of Ace Hardware, which sustained the worst damage, employees were cutting plywood. The Win Ridge worker said it was for temporary walls to separate their stockroom from the electrical room where a lot of work will be taking place over the next several weeks to restore the electrical panel.
The owner of Ace Hardware and Family Discount noted that the fire was causing him to lose all back to school sales, his best three weeks of the year. He had a lot more to say as well but didn't want to be quoted.
"All day long I get questions," said the Win Ridge employee. "The first day smoke was coming out of stores and people were asking why they couldn't go in."