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Combie Plaza businesses in comeback mode after fire

Blaze guts 41-year-old building, affecting three businesses and a parks and rec office
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Henry Fiser said he feels the same way he would if someone had died. Wiping back a tear as he stood in ashes and the charred remains of a building that had housed his florist and gift shop for a decade, Fiser said the now-gutted Combie Plaza shop space had become like a second home. “It became like a person and now it’s like someone has died – this store died,” Fiser said. “But it will be reborn.” Fiser and his wife, Sherry, built a florist business known for both its quality and its friendliness over the past decade at the Combie Road building. But the structure was heavily damaged in a fire that roared through the 41-year-old wood-frame structure on Sunday morning. “I will be back,” Fiser said. “The question is how long it will take for the landlord to receive insurance claims. I’ll work at Taco Bell, anything, if we have to wait over the next year, because we would like to return here.” Fiser said his Country Florist business was insured, as was the building itself. The two other businesses housed at the plaza building were also in comeback mode. Sue Bowman, whose Paws & Claws pet grooming service had been a tenant in the building for 17 years, said she’d like to return but is also happy with the new location she has found at Highway 49 and Alta Sierra Drive. Bowman was uninsured and lost everything in the fire. “Pens, paper clips, everything,” Bowman said. “I lost everything. But you have a choice and, for me, I definitely want to wake up in the morning and feel good.” Also burned out were the Bear River Recreation and Park District office and Layne R. Christensen Family Eye Care. Christensen Family Eye Care also has a location in Grass Valley and was directing people there. Two businesses that had been at the Combie Plaza building up to three weeks ago – Service Pump Co. and Barber Studio – had moved to locations in the 10500-block of Combie Road and narrowly escaped also being impacted. Building owner Jackie Dickey said that she was trying to take the fire and the loss of a building that she and her husband constructed more than 40 years ago in stride. “If you don’t you’ll go crazy,” Dickey said. “It’s just a building and we’re digging out.” Battalion Chief Jerry Good of the Higgins Fire District said that an investigation had determined that the fire was caused by electrical problems.