Local pet store suffers water damage as result of fire

Marcella Nichols, manager of the fish department at the Marysville Jones and Co. Pet Store, surveys the damage to the store
Marcella Nichols, manager of the fish department at the Marysville Jones and Co. Pet Store, surveys the damage to the store's back room caused by its Jan. 13 fire.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Water damage might not be the primary problem you'd associate with a fire, but for the Jones and Co. Pet Store on State Avenue, the water from their sprinkler system did more damage to their store and its merchandise than the fire that the sprinklers activated to put out.

Marysville Jones and Co. Pet Store Manager Loraine DeMars explained that their Jan. 13 fire began sometime before 1 a.m., in the back room they used to store quarantined fish.

"The fish room in front of that room was spared, but it doesn't have lights or electricity now, because the electrical system for the fish was in the back room," DeMars said. "The fire melted the plastic of the fish tanks, went up the wall and burned hot enough to activate the sprinklers."

DeMars estimated that only two reptiles and a dozen fish were lost, none of which had been suitable for sale to the public. As for the back room, she expects it will have to be "stripped down to the beams," in order to replace its soaked-through drywall, repaint it and rebuild its electrical system.

While the rest of the store was saved from any fire damage, the fact that no one heard its fire alarm meant that Marysville firefighters and pet store employees walked in early that morning to find three to four inches of standing water throughout the store, due to its sprinklers running continuously for close to six hours.

"We had to do a water relay with the firefighters, using brooms and mops and squeegees to move the water out the front of the store," DeMars said. "They stayed right alongside us from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., pushing water tirelessly. They even lent us shop-vacs and backpack vacuum cleaners. The Marysville Fire District was wonderful, and I can't imagine how we could have done it without them."

The pet store's recovery work is far from done, though, since everything from their lower walls to their fiberboard flooring got soaked, and they've still got huge dryers and dehumidifiers blowing on entire aisles of cordoned-off merchandise that had been sitting on the floor. Even their gondola shelves still need to be moved and cleaned under with bleach, to prevent the growth of mold and other unsanitary substances.

"We haven't had any insurance estimates yet," DeMars said. "With some merchandise, such as the stuff that's in boxes, we'll be finding out if we might be able to remove it from those boxes and sell it at a discount. With others, we might have to send it to a salvage company. We just don't know yet."

What DeMars and Barbara Doward, the store's pet department manager, do know is that their neighbors in the surrounding community care about what happens to them. After news stories first broke about their store's fire, both DeMars and Doward found themselves inundated with questions from well-wishers.

"I've had so many people come up to me and say, 'Your store is our favorite place,'" Doward said. "Even the firefighters who came here were scared for our cats. When I've gone to the local Safeway, or even the Everett Clinic, I've been asked, 'Is everybody okay?' It's just been an outpouring of concern."

"I'm happy that we're still open, and we have wonderful people here in Marysville," DeMars said.

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