Businesses hope to recover after Uphams fire

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Aug. 13, 2008

A midnight blaze tore through King Zion's Den on Hancock Street on Aug. 3. The African collectibles retailer and two other stores sustianed some $600,000 in damage, according to a Boston Fire Department estimate.

Fire Chief Bill Meyer attributed the fire to a short circuit of some kind.

"They told me that someone next door had connected a few too many wires on to a power surge protector," said Edwin Santiago, who runs PC Solutions, a computer repair center next door to the den. "I hurt a lot mentally. It's not easy being in business nine or 10 years and see everything go up in smoke."

Santiago said he was insured up until a month and a half ago, until his agency sent an inspector who discovered a recurrent flooding problem in the basement. His policy was suspended until that problem could be resolved, which of course, didn't turn out to be the imminent threat.

"It was an act of God that my display cases didn't get broken," said Santiago. "Nothing got wet."

Lucky for him, he was able to return his repair projects to their owners unhurt, although his office and shop equipment was smoke damaged.

Rodney Black, the owner of King Zion's Den, did not respond to an e-mail by press time, and Enrique DePina, owner of Las Americas Barbershop which was also smoke damaged, did not return a phone message.

According to Ted Ahern, one of the property owners, another barbershop has lent space to the barbers from Las Americas, and Black of King Zion's Den has found another space.

"They'll all be back in there in six to eight weeks," said Ahern, who was patching the roof the morning after the fire. "The fire department did a great job as always."